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Message posted on 03/01/2018

CfP SI of Philosophy of Management: the role of Ecological Management in the Circular Economy

Beyond Corporate Sustainability: Philosophical Reflections on the role of
ecological management in the Circular Economy

Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Philosophy of Management

Guest Editors:
Vincent Blok (Wageningen University)
Mark Dibben (Tasmanian School for Business & Economics)

Context and Aims:
As it becomes increasingly clear nowadays that humanity is using more natural
resources than the earth can provide, and that we need two or more planets to
support our modern way of living in the future (WWF, 2012), many scholars and
policy makers call for the transformation to a circular economy in order to
ensure the sustainability of Earth's life support system (Kolbert, 2011). In
this view, the sustainability of the life support systems of planet Earth is
threatened by environmental problems like global warming, and business
managers are seen as change agents in this transformation to the circular
At the same time, it is especially business management which can be associated
with the destruction of the eco-systems of planet earth; it seems to be the
case that since the start of the Industrial Revolution, our species alone has
used management to make the sort of seismic changes to the biosphere
previously reserved only to volcanic activity. It is in this respect, that
business is often seen as part of the problem, rather than part of the
solution. It is precisely our practice of management in business, that has
been the architect of the remarkable economic success of the past three
hundred years, that has plunged the planet at the same time into ecological
If the current situation demands the transformation to the circular economy in
order to ensure the sustainability of Earth's life support systems on the one
hand, while precisely business management can be seen as one of the root
causes of the ecological crisis we face today, the question emerges what
exactly is the nature of management, why it contributes to environmental
problems like global warming, and what alternative ways of conceptualising
management are available that contribute to the stewardship of planet earth?
What does the transformation to the circular economy require from our
management practices?
In this respect, it is significant that 'management' is not necessarily a term
that characterizes human behaviour, but can be associated with processes in
nature, ranging from self-organisation and cooperation within animal groups
and eco-systems to the way the life support systems of planet Earth maintain
themselves. Although business management implies conscious decision making and
control - which can be questioned to be at stake in natural eco-systems -
natural management and control may inspire organisational management. Or as
Dibben and D'Arcy (2015) put it: "[W]e are not the only species that engages
in management. Most creatures engage in managing their environment, by making
shelter / having special places where they rest and reproduce, finding and
storing food and even creating paths that run to and from the food and the
shelter. Insects, spiders, birds, fish, reptiles, and mammals all practice
management to some degree. Management is therefore better understood as
inherent in Nature, a Universal aspect of Purposeful Life". That is to say,
some aspects of the behaviour of social creatures - lions, ants etc. - display
at least parallels with human organised management. These forms of ecological
management of natural systems may yet inspire a human type of management of
organisations that is not only better able to grow and learn from nature,
instead of depleting it - in this respect, ecological management is inspired
by the emerging field of ecological economy (Daley & Farley, 2004). It also
tries to reconceptualise human management and control practices based on
ecological management practices in order to contribute to the transformation
to the circular economy.
This special issue of Philosophy of Management aims to explore the question
what exactly is the nature of ecological management, and how ecological
management can contribute to the transformation to the circular economy. We
look for both deep reflections on the relation between ecology and economy in
order to inform current conceptualisations of the bio-economy or circular
economy, and the nature of ecological management and its implications of
business management, its contribution to issues in business and economics, and
its contribution to organisational sustainable development.
Possible questions to be addressed may include:

- What is the role of organisational management and the logic of
economic growth in the depletion of the natural resources of planet earth?

- To what extent is organisational management dominated by a hegemony
of engineering and control of nature, and what explains this?

- To what extent can ecological management of natural systems inspire
a more comprehensive, relational and integral way of management in business
practices, for instance sustainable entrepreneurship?

- What forms of nature-based or ecological management - biomimicry,
eco-mimesis (Blok & Gremmen 2016) can be found in the natural environment and
can inspire ecological management?

- What are the advantages and disadvantages of ecological management
in the natural world and of ecological management in business organisations?

- What are the antecedents of ecological management in business
organisations (values, world-view, experience of environmental distress

- What are the consequences of eco-logical management for eco-nomic
institutions operating in the circular economy?

- What is the role of ecological management for acknowledging and
addressing the embeddedness of the socio-economic system within the natural
system beyond its function as resource and waste sink? Can ecological
management better represent the intrinsic value of nature other than its
functions in the economic system?

- How are the biosphere and the economic sphere related to each other
in the biobased or circular economy (Zwier, Blok, Lemmens, 2015)?

- What data, other than financial, should be disclosed to
stakeholders in a circular economy?
Contributions are invited to reflect on these and other issues from various
perspectives (e.g. philosophy, epistemology, environmental philosophy etc.).

Submission Process and Deadlines
Papers will be reviewed following the PoM double-blind review process. Papers
should be submitted by the 1-11-2018 via, with clear reference to the
special issue 'Beyond Corporate Sustainability: Philosophical Reflections on
Ecological Management'. Papers should be prepared using the PoM Guidelines.
As soon as the papers are accepted for publication, they will be published and
accessible online. The publication of the complete special volume is scheduled
for 2019. The editors welcome informal enquiries related to proposed topics.
For this, please contact Mark Dibben
( or Vincent Blok

Special Issue Track
To help authors advance their manuscripts, a Special Issue Track will be held
during the next Philosophy of Mangement Conference, June 25-28 2018 in
Greenwich (UK). Authors of manuscripts are invited to submit their working
papers. Interested authors are invited to send their abstract of 1500 words to, with a clear
reference to the special track on 'ecological management'. The editorial team
will assign a referee among the guest editors for each paper presented, with
the intention of strengthening the papers prior to official submission for
peer review for potential inclusion in the special issue. For the deadline to
submit working papers for the track etc. please follow the general call for
paper for the conference. Participation in the track is encouraged, but not a
precondition for submissions to the special issue.

Contact Email:
Corresponding Guest Editors: Mark Dibben
(; Vincent Blok,
Wageningen University, The Netherlands

Blok, V., Gremmen, B. 2016. "Ecological Innovation: Biomimicry as a New Way of
Thinking and Acting Ecologically". Journal of Agricultural and Environmental
Ethics 29:203-217
Daly & Farley 2004. Ecological economics: principles and practice. Island

Dibben, M. And D'Arcy (2015) "Process and Business Management: A Short Note on
how Process Thinking might help bring about a more Hospitable World."

Kolbert, E. (2011). "Enter the Anthropocene - Age of Man". National
Geographic, March 2011.

WWF. (2012). Living Planet Report 2012. Gland: WWF.

Zwier, J., Blok, V., Lemmens, P. (2015), "The Ideal of a Zero-Waste Humanity:
Philosophical Reflections on the Demand for a Bio-Based Economy", Journal of
Agricultural and Environmental Ethics (DOI 10.1007/s10806-015-9538-y)

Dr. Vincent Blok MBA
Associate Professor in Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Business and Innovation
Ethics, Management Studies Group
Associate Professor in Philosophy of Management, Technology and Innovation,
Philosophy Group

Wageningen University
Management Studies and Philosophy Group
Hollandseweg 1, 6706 KN, Wageningen (Building 201)
De Leeuwenborch, Room 5060
P.O. Box 8130, 6700 EW, Wageningen
T: +31 (0) 317 483623
F: +31 (0) 317 485454
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