The nitty gritty of life cycle management: Exploring the organization of LCM
Doctoral thesis, 2018
Climate change and environmental degradation threaten to cause serious effects on the planet and on society. Scientists thus advocate an urgent shift towards a more sustainable development. Herein, industry is said to play a vital role, as it could positively influence sustainable production and consumption. In this, life cycle management (LCM) is suggested as a possible approach towards corporate management of environmental impacts, as it implies holistic environmental management along the whole product life cycle, from raw material extraction through to product end-of-life.
Studies of the management and organization of LCM in industry practice are scarce, resulting in a need to study this practice in the setting of multinational corporations (MNCs). The aim of this dissertation is thus to explore the ‘nitty gritty’ details of organizing LCM; focusing on the 1) initiatives and activities of LCM, their scope of inclusion, how these develop over time, 2) the role of actors in performing and forming these practices, and 3) the activities of these practitioners.
Studies both in the field (i.e. industry practice) and of literature have been conducted, resulting in five papers (Papers I-V). One group of papers target LCM as it is practiced in one MNC (Paper I-III), by focusing on contemporary practice (Paper I), the LCM development over time (Paper II), and in the context of a product chain collaboration (Paper III). Another group of papers (Papers IV-V) takes a broader perspective on LCM throughout industry and society, focusing explicitly on the practitioners of LCM and their activities (Paper IV), and the different types of LCM that exist (Paper V).
The results show the assiduous efforts of life cycle (LC) practitioners in integrating, adapting and promoting LCM in their organizations, and their importance in bridging discussions in a practice of creative problem-solving, through a process best understood as translation. Adaptation depended much on possible activities, rather than on rational choice for implementation. In this, LCM was made relevant by being connected to existing corporate logics and practices, in turn facilitating the uptake of LCM. The results concretize the many practices of LCM and provide a collected and enriched LCM vocabulary, thereby generating a better understanding of developing industry LCM practice.
life cycle thinking (LCT)
life cycle management (LCM)
product chain LCM