Anchoring unsustainable practices in rhetoric

A study of just in time arrival of tanker ships

  • Hanna Varvne Gothenburg Research Institute, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg
Keywords: Rhetorical institutionalism, rhetoric strategies, rhetoric structures, Shipping, just-in-time


In this paper, rhetorical institutionalism is used to increase the understanding of how sustainable practices become legitimized. The rhetoric strategies and rhetoric structures are analyzed to show how the way we talk can constrains change and implementation of sustainable practices by investigating the following research question: What are the rhetoric strategies and structures in organizations that enable or hinder change to sustainable practices? The paper draw from an interview study of tanker ships’ arrival to port and the possibility to change the practice towards just-in time arrival. The findings of this study shows that different rhetorical structures exist side by side in periods of change. Further, it indicate that analysis of rhetoric strategies and structures can indicate where change is happening. Which in turn can be used to guide measures initiated to increase change towards sustainable practices.


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10.1 Organizing sustainability: idle talk, niche, for real, impossible, or else?