University of Tasmania
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Improving social outcomes in sustainable forest management : community engagement and commitment to corporate social responsibility by Australian forest companies

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posted on 2023-05-26, 00:06 authored by Gordon, MJ
The overarching aim of the study was to identify ways to improve the adoption of community engagement, and through this, corporate social responsibility practices by forest companies in Australia in order to achieve sustainable forest management outcomes. For community engagement (CE) to be sustained within a company it must be supported by corporate culture. I used two case studies of Australian forest plantation companies to explore corporate culture and its impact CE adoption. Previous research has failed to adequately explore the relationship between CE adoption and corporate culture within forest companies. As such this research provides essential contribution to the literature and practical insight into how forest companies can improve the social dimensions of their forest management practices. The thesis was an interdisciplinary endeavour, as it contributes to a number of disciplines including CE and corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, the research primarily contributes to the discipline of forest management. This thesis addresses the question of 'what can be done to enhance the adoption of community engagement in the corporate culture of Australian forest plantation companies?' I used multiple qualitative methods to investigate two case studies, each involving a single forest company. The methods included observation, interviewing and document analysis. I investigated the views of stakeholders within and outside each company regarding CSR and CE, and conducted 87 semi-structured interviews. An adaptive theory approach was taken, with thematic coding being used to analyse data. Using both literature review and empirical data gathered for the study, I explored the relationships between CE, CSR and sustainable forest management. Investigating corporate culture provided insight into how the two case study companies could enhance adoption of CE. External stakeholder views provided necessary context in which to understand how to improve socially-orientated dimensions of forest plantation management. The study identified opportunities for the two case study companies to enhance their commitment to CE, and through this, CSR and thus improve their business practices. The Australian forest industry as a whole has the opportunity to overcome several barriers that are currently limiting CE practices. I found there were issues associated with a lack of understanding of the essence of stakeholder concerns, and an inability for single companies to address concerns associated with an industry sector. Further, although I found evidence that corporate cultures were supporting, rather than limiting, the adoption of CE, there is room to improve current practices and enhance CE adoption. I recommend that companies develop better stakeholder identification and analysis procedures, enhance relationships with a broader range of stakeholders, and improve collaboration within the forest plantation industry (between companies) to improve industry-wide CE. In addition, managers of companies need to actively engage their staff to ensure CE values and processes are adopted throughout their company. The research confirms that it is vital for forest companies to embed CE in the cultural norms of their day-to-day operational environment. The thesis argues that forest companies need to take CE and CSR seriously if they are going to survive into the future


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2012 the Author Chapter 5 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Gordon, M., Lockwood, M., Vanclay, F., Hanson, D., Schirmer, J., 2012. Divergent stakeholder views of corporate social responsibility in the Australian forest plantation sector, Journal of environmental management, 113, 390-398. Chapter 6 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Gordon, M., Lockwood, M., Hanson, D., Vanclay, F., Schirmer, J., 2014. Perceptions of corporate social responsibility in Australian forestry companies, International journal of sustainable society, 6(4), 336-353 Chapter 7 appears to be the equivalent of an accepted manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Australian forestry on 10 May 2013, available online: Chapter 8 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Gordon, M., Schirmer, J., Lockwood, M., Vanclay, F., Hanson D., 2013. Being good neighbours: current practices, barriers, and opportunities for community engagement in Australian plantation forestry, Land use policy, 34, 62-71

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