By: Juan M. Carrillo de Gea, José Alberto Garcia-Berna, José L. Fernández-Alemán, Joaquín Nicolás, Begoña Moros, Ambrosio Toval, Ali Idri
Associate Editor: Sofia Ouhbi
We live in a finite world, with limited resources. The idea of sustainable development arises to counteract the overexploitation of natural and environmental resources. The World Commission on Environment and Development (a.k.a. the Brundtland’s Commission), defined sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). At the same time, the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) represent an important driver of innovation, competitiveness and sustained long-term growth for modern knowledge-based societies (Cardona, Kretschmer, & Strobel, 2013). ICT are also recognized catalysts of sustainable development and they can boost the impact of sustainable development efforts (Zelenika & Pearce, 2013). However, positive and negative impacts of ICT on sustainability tend to cancel each other out, and it is crucial to actively design policies that encourage ICT applications that result on a positive outcome for the environment (Hilty et al., 2006).
In an organizational context, behavior change is an important tool to improve compliance with business processes and policies (Gelles, 2016). There are many theories of behavior change: diffusion of innovations, hierarchy of effects, steps to behavior change, stages of change or transtheoretical model (TTM), social learning theory and social cognitive theory, theory of reasoned action and theory of planned behavior, health belief model, operant conditioning, value-belief-norm theory, Fogg behavior model, and DO IT process, just to name a few. In particular, the TTM of behavior change includes five stages, ranging from no intention to change, to maintain behavior: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Behavior change takes place when people progress—or move back—towards a desired behavior. While the TTM of behavior change has been mostly applied in health research, there are similarities between health behavior and environmental behavior (Nisbet & Gick, 2008).
In this work, we specifically address the stage construct of the TTM with the purpose of characterizing behavior change among ICT professionals about four key sustainability areas: (1) electric consumption, (2) waste treatment, (3) water consumption, and (4) transport and mobility. A total of 141 participants from ICT companies participated in an industry survey in the Region of Murcia (Spain) through an on-line questionnaire. We gathered information from all the respondents about their individual behavior at the workplace regarding the four sustainability areas. There were 26 individual behavior questions designed to be rated on a 3-point unipolar Likert-type scale (i.e. No, In some cases, Yes), and we also included a Not applicable (N/A) response option. An additional question was included at the end of each block of questions that depends on the previous answers (i.e. a filter or contingency question) to assign the respondents to the specific stage of change in each sustainability dimension under study.
Figures 1-4 show the results for each sustainability dimension under study. Our findings suggest that the ICT professionals are generally respectful with the environment, especially in relation to electric consumption, waste treatment, and water consumption. With regard to transport and mobility, the situation is not so good. All this is more evident if we move on to Figure 5, where we show the percentage of respondents in each stage of the TTM for each sustainability dimension.
|Figure 1. What sustainable habits do you have at work in relation to electric consumption?|
|Figure 2. What sustainable habits do you have at work regarding waste treatment?|
|Figure 3. What sustainable habits do you have at work with respect to water consumption?|
|Figure 4. What sustainable habits do you have at work in terms of transport and mobility?|
|Figure 5. Percentage of respondents in each stage of the TTM|
Our study is still under development and we are currently working on expanding the results posted here. All in all, we hope that the information obtained will help ICT professionals to become aware that it is also possible to contribute to sustainable development through our behaviors in the workplace.
Cardona, M., Kretschmer, T., & Strobel, T. (2013). ICT and productivity: conclusions from the empirical literature. Information Economics and Policy, 25(3), 109-125.
Gelles, M. G. (2016). Chapter 2 - common challenges to maturing an insider threat program. In M. G. Gelles (Ed.), Insider threat(pp. 19-37). Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Hilty, L. M., Arnfalk, P., Erdmann, L., Goodman, J., Lehmann, M., & Wäger, P. A. (2006). The relevance of information and communication technologies for environmental sustainability - a prospective simulation study. Environmental Modelling and Software, 21(11), 1618-1629.
Nisbet, E. K. L., & Gick, M. L. (2008). Can health psychology help the planet? applying theory and models of health behaviour to environmental actions. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 49(4), 296-303.
World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Our common future. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Zelenika, I., & Pearce, J. M. (2013). The internet and other ICTs as tools and catalysts for sustainable development: innovation for 21st century. Information Development, 29(3), 217-232.
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