Normalising New Behaviour: Networks and the uptake of environmental practices amongst small businesses in Australia

Author: Kristine Peters

Peters, Kristine, 2012 Normalising New Behaviour: Networks and the uptake of environmental practices amongst small businesses in Australia, Flinders University, School of the Environment

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Climate change has created an imperative to modify human behaviour from its historical use of the earth as a resource and sink to new practices that are environmentally sustainable. Governments have attempted to influence voluntary behaviour change through social marketing, but their success with the small business sector, which makes a sizable contribution to the pollution load, has been largely unsuccessful. Small business owners are isolated, time poor, and focused inwardly on their businesses, making the process of large-scale contact and engagement extremely challenging. The primary objective of this thesis is to identify a strategy for engagement of communities in the adoption of reluctant behaviours. The secondary objectives were to determine the role of social capital in creating norms of new behaviour, and to establish the process by which learning can underpin the transition from ʻjust knowingʼ to active participation in new practices. Referencing the social capital, learning and environmental behaviour change literature, research was undertaken with three groups of small business owners to provide a comparison of the effects of social capital on learning. The results of this research demonstrate that creating sustainable change in reluctant behaviours can be achieved through an overt focus on learning and group norms. The findings of the research have relevance to behaviour and attitudinal change beyond the environmental sustainability field.

Keywords: environment,small business,behaviour change,norms,social capital,learning,precinct,attitude,policy

Subject: Environmental Science thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2012
School: School of the Environment
Supervisor: Andrew Beer