Ramping Up Resistance: Corporate Sustainable Development and Academic Research
We argue the need for academics to resist and challenge the hegemonic discourse of sustainable development within the corporate context. Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory provides a useful framework for recognizing the complex nature of sustainable development and a way of conceptualizing counter-hegemonies. Published empirical research which analyzes sustainable development discourse within corporate reports is examined to consider how the hegemonic discourse is constructed. Embedded assumptions within the hegemonic construction are identified including sustainable development as primarily about economic development, progress, growth, profitability, and ‘responsibly’ managed levels of resource depletion. We call for multiple voices in the discursive field to debate and to resist closure, and highlight the possibilities for academic researchers to actively resist the hegemonic construction. Specifically we advocate: vigilance and awareness; critical and reflective analyses; challenge and resistance based on other frames of reference; and strategies for communicating both within and outside the academy.