Warning and Disclaimer

So this is just a blog I'm using to upload a bunch of the essays and assessment tasks I wrote for my various uni degrees. Basically I put a lot of effort into some of these and it seems a waste for them to only be read once... so I figured upload them onto the web and see if anyone looks at them.

did ok at most of my essays, some better than others so copy the ideas at your own risk... Given the slow increase in my marks over the years clearly it took me a while to get started. You can probably work out when I wrote each assessment based on the length of the reference list (and there's probably a correlation with the marks I received for that assessment too)

I had a glance over the cover sheets and don't think there's anything stopping me uploading them as I don't think the uni claims ownership over them. You sign off saying that the work has never been submitted before, not that you won't do anything with it later.

That all being said, if you do find these useful for your own uni work... DON'T copy them (not because I care about you copying them) but because you WILL get done for plagarism yourself... Take some of the main points if you want, definitely steal my reference lists, but don't copy text from the essay because you will get done...

So yeah, read on if you're interested, follow up the references... but don't copy if you know what's good for you

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sustainability Change Management Plan- Woolworths Ltd


The purpose of this report is to assess the organisational sustainability characteristics of Woolworths Limited. Both human and environmental sustainability characteristics will be assessed using the Sustainability Phase Model. The current performance of Woolworth Ltd will be assessed and recommendations for progression further through this model will be made.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability and Sustainable Development is a concept in the world that achieves nearly universal approval (Hattingh, 2002), however it is also a concept that has no universal definition. The wider ranging debate and discourse over what sustainability and sustainable development means however shows that there is much common ground in between the large number of definitions being produced.

Most definitions expand on the initial definition produced by the United Nations (1987) in the Brundtland Report. This definition attempts to balance the needs of the current generations with those of the future generations. Another common feature of many of these definitions is balancing environmental, social and economic elements, these three elements often being referred to as the “three pillars” of sustainability (Leiserowitz, Kates & Parris, 2004). A broad definition of sustainable development would be balancing these three pillars both between each other and between generations, with most differences in definition being in the specifics of this balance rather than this core of the definition.

Organisational Sustainability

Business and Industry has been recognised as a group with a major role to play in the world’s transition towards sustainability (United Nations, 2007). Organisational Sustainability is the attempt by organisations (primarily business organisations) to make the organisation more sustainable. How individual organisations view organisational sustainability will change depending on the outlook of the organisation, the industry it is in, or the country the organisation is based in. Organisational sustainability policies and initiatives can have a variety of different names, be either formally or informally recognised and have varying levels of acceptance. In Australia it is quite common for Corporate Social Responsibility policies to be the main driving policy for organisational sustainability. Corporate Social Responsibility can be driven by a range of factors and the heightened focus on CSR has not always been voluntary (Porter & Kramer, 2006) however CSR is limited in its ability to influence total sustainability due to the focus it holds on the “social” pillar of sustainable development.

The Phase Model

The phase model is an abstract tool designed originally to provide the ability to compare organisations behaviour relevant to environmental and social sustainability (Dunphy, Griffiths & Benn, 2007). The assumption being that the third pillar of sustainable development, economic development, is represented by the business remaining profitable and is a concern of all corporations regardless of their position in the phase model.

There are 6 phases in the phase model (Dunphy, Griffiths & Benn, 2007);
  • Rejection
    • Characterised by an attitude that all resources exist to be exploited for economic gain.
  • Non-Responsiveness
    • Characterised by a lack of awareness focused on business as usual and creating and maintaining a compliant workforce
  • Compliance
    • This phase focuses on reducing the risk of not meeting minimum standards and avoiding legal or community backlash.
  • Efficiency
    • This is the beginning of the process of incorporating sustainability into the core of the business. At this phase human resource and environmental policies are used to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
  • Strategic Proactivity
    • By making sustainability an important part of the corporation’s business strategy. In this phase sustainability is seen as potentially providing the corporation a strategic advantage and being part of the firms maximisation of long term profitability.
  • The Sustaining Corporation
    • The final phase is one where sustainability is internalised in the ideology of the organisation where people and the environment are seen as valuable for their own sake.
Woolworths Limited

Woolworths Limited is the world’s 26th largest retailer, with the major brands of the corporation in Australia Woolworths, Safeway, Caltex/Woolworths Petrol, Dick Smith Electronics, Powerhouse, Tandy, BWS, Dan Murphy’s and Big W. Woolworths Ltd is Australia’s largest private employer and one of Australia’s largest publicly listed companies (Woolworths Limited, 2008a). Over 188,000 people work for Woolworths Limited in Australasia, over 110,000 of these employees found in the supermarket division with an approximately even spread of full-time, part-time and casual employees (Woolworths Limited, 2010a). Approximately 50,000 of Woolworths Limited employees are located in rural or regional areas of Australia (Woolworths Limited, 2008a).

Expanding the reach, Woolworths Limited has over 3000 separate suppliers of different sizes with 100% of the fresh meat and 95% of the fresh fruit and vegetables in the supermarkets being sourced from Australian producers. Out of the total produced in Australia (including produced for export) Woolworths Limited sells 12% of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, 15% of the lamb and 6% of the beef (Woolworths Limited, 2008a, Woolworths Limited 2008b, Woolworths Limited, 2010a).

Sustainability at Woolworths

The size of this organisation, combined with the extended reach it has through suppliers, customers and employees gives Woolworths Limited a potentially massive role it could play in both the corporate and wider sustainability debate in Australia. This is both direct influence on internal operations such as staffing and private label sourcing and indirect influence on both suppliers and customers. This is a field that as yet Woolworths Limited has not taken a leading role in, especially given the organisations size and potential influence. There is a division between Corporate Responsibility reporting and the Woolworths Limited Annual Report, with extremely limited reference to the corporate responsibility reports or the Sustainability Strategy goals, especially when compared to the financial details given in the Annual Report (Woolworths Limited, 2010b). This division would indicate that organisational sustainability is still seen as a secondary pursuit by the organisation.

Independence assurance statements can be found in all the Corporate Responsibility Reports for the organisation (Woolworths Limited, 2010a), however whilst annual Corporate Responsibility Reporting is now conducted by the organisation the report focuses mainly on Social aspects of sustainability with the financial benefit of this strategy being highlighted. There is a lesser focus on environmental issues with the majority of issues limited to the direct impact of the stores. Division between the various environmental, social and economic aspects of Organisational Sustainability also limits the ability of the organisation to recognise the interconnected nature of many of the issues.

Reluctance by Woolworths Limited to engage with suppliers over environmental or social issues also means the organisation is not fulfilling the potential it has to be a leader for sustainability in Australia. Competition between the leading supermarkets in Australia often results in the use of the strategy of loss leading to attract customers with the price of milk becoming subject to a senate inquiry in 2011. Loss leading can have a severely negative effect on producers and suppliers. Loss leading was also used on cartons of beer in 2011 where the supplier Fosters (itself a major Australian corporation) pulled their stock from the marketplace in what was described as a risky move so they could avoid the negative effect of the major Australian supermarkets using their product as a loss leader (Ferguson, 2011 and Ferguson & Rosenberg, 2011). The ability of Woolworths Limited to conduct large scale loss leading strategies and the inability of suppliers to resist this (even other large corporations) clearly shows the influence that Woolworths Limited can have on its suppliers. Loss leading also shows the willingness of Woolworths Limited to influence its supply chain for financial goals. Additionally using products that can be linked to social problems such as alcohol displays a willingness to sacrifice long term social goals for shorter term financial gain.

Woolworths Limited and the Phase Model

An assessment of Woolworths Limited would place the organisation at a compliance level with regards to both Human and Ecological sustainability according to the phase model. This means that financial and technological factors still dominate business strategies despite senior management attempting to comply with all environmental laws and viewing the organisation as a decent employer (Dunphy, Griffiths & Benn, 2007).

For Woolworths Limited Human Sustainability is firmly within the compliance phase with emphasis firmly on complying with legal requirements relating to industrial relations, safety and workplace standards (Dunphy, Griffiths & Benn, 2007). Whilst training and other human resource functions occur there is little evidence of integration between these programs and many of the programs focus on small aspects of the total Woolworths Limited workforce (Woolworths Limited, 2010a). Evidence of community concerns only being addressed when there is a large amount of negative publicity can be seen in the slow response made by the corporation to issues such as palm oil (Woolworths Limited 2010c), and the limited nature of that response given the power Woolworths limited has over suppliers or the response to community outcry over the relationship between Woolworths Limited and Asia Pulp and Paper (Hance, 2008).

Woolworths Limited is in the compliance phase regarding Ecological Sustainability too, however there are elements of the efficiency phase to be found in some of the policies by the organisation. Financial and technological factors dominate business strategies however there are elements of poor environmental practice being seen as an avoidable cost, especially with regards to completely internal environmental issues. Energy emissions are being reduced with the pay off for the company being seen as reduced energy costs rather than intrinsic environmental benefits. Reductions in water usage where they can be measured are also valued for cost savings rather than intrinsic reasons (Woolworths Limited 2010a). Evidence of environmental issues being ignored is not seen as generating strong community action or generating avoidable costs can be shown by the reluctance of Woolworths Limited to engage suppliers over environmental issues.

Overall there is little integration between Human Resource and Environmental functions of the organisation. The majority of both Human and Ecological sustainability initiatives of the organisation exist for financial benefit or to maintain a “good citizen” image.

Progressing through the Phase Model

Woolworths Limited can be located in the third (compliance) phase of the Phase Model for issues relating to Human Sustainability and much of the issues relating to Ecological Sustainability, this gives it great potential to make large improvements in corporate sustainability. For the corporation to advance to the efficiency phase there needs to be a shift in the upper levels of the corporation that there are significant advantages to be gained by proactively instituting sustainability practices, advantages that go beyond minimising risk and meeting minimum community demands. Profits involving a social purpose represent a higher form of capitalism (Porter & Kramer, 2011) and this view could be taken up by Woolworths Limited to great benefit of both the organisation and Australian society as a whole, given the size and market share of the corporation.

The size of Woolworths Limited both in staff numbers and the geographical spread of the organisation means that a change program needs to be something supported and directed by higher level management. Without significant support and direction from upper management there will be difficulties in spreading change of any form in between the 3000 stores in the corporation. There are views that for truly successful corporate social responsibility policies top level management needs to see social responsibility as a strategic choice and this strategic view is most likely to come from a transformational leadership perspective (Waldman & Siegal, 2008). This is important to note because the most common corporate response to CSR is not strategic, or even operational, it has in fact been cosmetic with public relations, media campaigns and glossy separate CSR reports (Porter & Kramer, 2006), similar to those produced by Woolworths Limited.

This would indicate that change for greater organisational sustainability is likely to need to come from the upper level of Woolworths Limited management if it is to be successful and spread throughout the entire organisation. The construction of new “green stores” indicates there is limited support from upper level management already, but more can be done. A correlation has been shown between the level of integration of CSR into the business and the benefits gained from it (Legendre, 2008) which means greater integration of CSR principles into the Woolworths Limited business would see greater benefits for the organisation.

This would all indicate that the change management approach that would potentially have the best results for Woolworths Limited would be for upper level management to take on a “Coach” perspective. A coaching image the change manager is assumed to have the ability to intentionally shape the organisations capabilities in particular ways. However unlike the dictating approach of the director perspective the coach perspective relies on building the right set of values, skills and drills that organisation members can then utilise to achieve the desired outcome (Palmer, et al., 2009). A coaching perspective from Upper management at Woolworths Limited would enable greater integration of CSR into the business strategy with the ever increasing benefits that this entails. It would also begin to influence the large staff of the organisation to more sustainable practices both at work and in society. A more integrated CSR policy would also help Woolworths Limited spread organisational sustainability from beyond it’s already considerably sized organisation to the wider supply chain it has, enabling the organisation to become a leading force for sustainability in Australia.


Currently Woolworths Limited can be found primarily in the compliance phase of the Phase model of Organisational Sustainability, however the integration of CSR principles into the business strategy provides great potential for Woolworths Limited to progress further through this model. Greater integration of CSR principles alongside a coaching image of change management would give this organisation the potential to not only become a leader in Organisational Sustainability, but to become a leading force for sustainability in the greater Australian Society. This is due to the size and spread of the organisation, the large widespread staff, the large supply network and the close contact the organisation has with the majority of Australian society. Greater integration of CSR principles will provide the business with a number of benefits and the power the organisation has to influence the supply chain it has means greater wide ranging beneficial changes could occur with sufficient will.

Dunphy, D., Griffiths, A. & Benn, S. (2007) Organisational Change for Corporate Sustainability, 2nd Ed. Routledge, London

Ferguson, A. (2011) Beer wars as Foster’s takes on chains to stop sale of $28 cases, The Sydney Morning Herald, March 23rd page 1

Ferguson, A & Rosenberg, J. (2011) Grocery giants to get grilling over grog wars, The Sydney Morning Herald: Business Day, March 24th page 3

Hance, J. (2008) Australia’s Woolworths greenwashes rainforest destruction in Indonesia allege activists, Mongabay.com http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0708-Hance_woolworths.html last accessed June 2011

Hattingh, J. (2002) On the imperative of sustainable development A philosophical and ethical appraisal, in Van Rensburg, J, et. al. 2002 Environmental Education, Ethics and Action in Southern Africa, Pretoria

Leiserowitz, A., Kates, R. & Parris, T. (2004) Sustainability Values, Attitudes and Behaviours: A review of multinational and global trends. CID Working Paper No. 113 Harvard University

Legendre, A. (2008) Drivers for Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Practice in Australia, Green Capital, Sydney

Palmer, I., Dunford, R. & Akin, G. (2009) Managing Organisational Change- A multiple Perspectives Approach, 2nd ed, McGraw-Hill, New York

Porter, M. & Kramer, m. (2006) Strategy and Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility, Harvard Business Review, 84 (12)

United Nations (1987) Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future found at http://www.un-documents.net/wced-ocf.htm last accessed June 2011

United Nations (2007) Economic and Social Council: Commission on Sustainable Development 15th Session, Major Groups’ Priorities for Action in Energy for Sustainable Development, Industrial Development, Air Pollution/Atmosphere and Climate Change.

Waldman, D. & Siegel, D. (2008) Defining the Socially Responsible Leader, The Leadership Quarterly 19

Woolworths Limited (2008a) Doing the right thing: Sustainability Strategy 2007-2015, Woolworths Limited, Sydney

Woolworths Limited (2008b) The Facts about Grocery Retailing at Woolworths, Woolworth Limited, Sydney

Woolworths Limited (2010a) Corporate Responsibility Report 2010, Woolworths Limited, Sydney

Woolworths Limited (2010b) Woolworths Limited Annual Report 2010, Woolworths Limited, Sydney

Woolworths Limited (2010c) Sustainable Palm Oil Action Plan, Woolworths Limited, Sydney, found at http://www.woolworths.com.au/wps/wcm/connect/website/woolworths/about-us/woolworths-news/news-content/palmoilactionplan last accessed March 2011

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