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Thinking In Global And Local Sustainability Challenges

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Discuss about the Role of Systems Thinking in Global and Local Sustainability Challenges.



System reflects a group of correlated element working towards a common goals and objectives. System thinking focuses on specific individual elements and interrelationship among those elements to offer proper solution to any problem (Frantzeskaki, Loorbach and Meadowcroft 2012). In this essay, the prime focus will be provided on the usability of system thinking at the time of handling challenges associated with the increasing women participation in the senior executive position in Australia. Over the past few years, the number of women working in the role of senior executive has increased in a significant manner. For that reason, women participation in senior executive position is regarded as current phenomenon that transformed the way businesses conducted completely. Business council of Australia has expressed their objective of filling 50% of the senior executive position with female employee in both public and private sector within 2023 (Fiksel 2012). Increasing women participation in the senior executive position has revolutionized the leadership style of the organizations and also created new business opportunities for the organization. However, it also increases the complexity in maintaining healthy work environment. The essay will try to discuss critically whether use of system thinking can provide effective solution to the identified wicked problem. The essay will also try to illustrate the differences between traditional thinking approach and system thinking approach in a comprehensive way.    


Globalization has allowed organizations to expand their reach across the geographical boundaries (Garetti and Taisch 2012). For that reason, all the businesses dealing in each sector will have to face immense competition in order to remain competitive in the market. However, globalization has provided businesses the opportunity to conduct business in the diversified business sector. As a result, it has allowed businesses to take much more progressive decisions for the benefit of the organizations. Now, progressive thinking in the business process has allowed organizations to provide more opportunity to the females at the workplace. It has provided female employees the opportunity to prove themselves in the corporate environment. It has obviously created positive impact on positioning women in the senior executive position. Markard, Raven and Truffer (2012) have highlighted the fact that adding women in the senior executive position has allowed organizations to increase the effectiveness of the initiated strategies. It has been assessed that adding women in the senior executive position has allowed organizations to develop diversified strategies for accomplishing business goals and objectives. It also helps organization to send a positive message to other female employees that all of them are extremely valuable asset for the organization.


However, Loorbach and Wijsman (2013) have mentioned that inclusion of women in the senior executive position will also create different challenges within the operational process of the organization. Traditional thinking people are likely to vote against the inclusion of women as the leader of the organization. Thus, it will affect the overall business procedure of the organization in short-run. It has been assessed that traditional thinking primarily focuses on evaluating present situation only and does not focus on understanding the kind of impact in can have on future. However, system thinking approach will allow management of the organization to understand macroscopic aspect of the wicked problem. Therefore, it allows organization to understand the kind of positive impact inclusion of women in the senior executive position can have on business development perspective (Holden, Linnerud and Banister 2016). As a result, it induces businesses not to deviate from the sustainable growth objective due to different short-term obligations. Thus, system thinking approach can allow organizations to understand the chain regarding the kind of impact inclusion of women in senior executive position can have on the business performances. Thus, it would allow organizations to achieve sustainable growth in the market.

As illustrated by Hinrichs (2014) it is important for the businesses to focus on three pillar sustainability model for handling all types of wicked challenges in an effective manner. Three pillar model of sustainability has illustrated three prime elements including environment, society and economy, which can create massive impact on the sustainable development perspectives. In order to fulfil all the requirements associated with the society, organizations try to maintain positive work environment where employees can share their thought and perspectives effectively. Now, globalization has induced organizations to focus on maintaining diversified workforce for fulfilling all the requirements of the global customers. For that reason, all the global organizations like Tesco and Wal-Mart have focused on recruiting diversified workforce regardless of their religion, gender, caste, values or nationality. However, inclusion of diversified workforce can also create initial challenges in maintaining healthy work environment. Many people with traditional thinking approach might not ready to accept women as the leader of the organization (Nguyen and Bosch 2013). As a result, it would also create adverse impact on the business level in a major way. Traditional thinking approach will induce organizations and society to keep women below the senior executive position. Still, in many developing countries, people try to keep women engaged only in household activities and does not want them to go outside for developing professional career. However, system thinking approach will allow people to understand that it is the progressive way to counter the challenges associated with the future development perspectives. In fact, system thinking approach would induce society to change its perspective towards women and also provide them equal opportunity to prove themselves in the corporate business environment.


Environmental pillar of sustainability model focuses on proper use of strategies for establishing business in the global environment. Present competitive business structure has induced organization to focus on developing innovative strategies for increasing revenue level in a major way. Inclusion of women in the senior executive position would help organization to enhance the present level of diversity for handling all types of business challenges comprehensively. Thus, it will provide organizations more flexibility in dealing different types of complex business challenges. As a result, it has provided more opportunity to the organization in including female employees in an effective manner. Recent survey has highlighted the fact that around 62% of the law students in Australia are women. In addition, around 60% employees working in Commonwealth Public Service are women (Nguyen et al. 2012). Thus, skills and knowledge wise women are not far away from the men. In fact, they are always one-step ahead of the men regarding the skills and knowledge of the employees. It establishes the fact that women can contribute to the business expansion of the employees in an effective manner.      

Still, several organizations have faced massive challenges at the time of providing opportunity to the female employee for the senior executive position. Many instances has been identified where traditional thinking people has become rigid, as they do not want to accept women in the senior executive position. In fact, they have tried to influence management of the organizations to focus on assessing the best suited male employee for senior executive position. As per traditional thinking approach, women do not possess effective leadership skills for running organization successfully for sustainable timeframe (Tàbara and Chabay 2013). Conversely, system thinking approach will allow people to understand that skills and knowledge is the only measurable factor at the time of selecting an employee for the senior executive position. Thus, it will allow organizations to identify the best suited employees regardless of their gender, which is likely to create positive impact on achieving sustainable growth perspective. As per the article by Turcu (2013) leaders need to have specific skills and knowledge to direct a group of individual towards fulfilling organizational goals and objectives. Statistics highlight the fact that inclusion of women in the senior management position has allowed organization to achieve beyond the expectation. It has been assessed that senior executive team with women are likely to come up with more innovative ideas compared to any male based senior executive team. For that reason, it has become inevitable for the organization to look for suitable female employees who are capable of handling responsibilities of a senior executive comprehensively.


As per the article by Wiek et al. (2012), iceberg model can also be evaluated for understanding the significance of including women in the senior executive position. The iceberg model has emphasized on different factors like self-image, social roles, motives and traits, which can provide businesses the opportunity to handle challenges regarding sustainability changes in an effective manner. Firstly, iceberg model has highlighted social role for understanding the perspective of the community towards any sustainable changes. It is obvious that people coming from different cultural and geographical background will act differently towards any sustainable changes. For example, women are not allowed to go outside of home in previous century. However, time has changed the role of women with the society in a considerable manner. Now, traditional thinking approach would mention that women do not posses enough capability to understand the trend of global market (Rauschmayer, Omann and Frühmann 2012). For that reason, they should not be selected for any leadership role within the organization. Conversely, system thinking approach will understand the expected long-term impact that inclusion of women in the senior executive position can have on the business development perspective.

Iceberg model also has highlighted self-image as key attribute that can create major impact on the sustainability changes. Self-image induces people to construct negative or positive perception towards any sustainability changes of the organization. It is obvious that adding women in the senior executive position will create a mix impact on entire workforce. Thus, organizations need to be careful enough to develop effective counter strategies for fulfilling long-term objectives in an effective manner (Aizstrauta and Ginters 2013). Another attribute in the iceberg model is trait that focuses on enduring physical, cognitive and other characteristics driven elements. All the elements mentioned in the trait factors contribute in developing effective behavioural pattern of the workplace. Over the past few decades, inclusion of women in the senior executive position has helped organizations to achieve massive success at the workplace.


System thinking approach allows organizations to assess the prime areas that might be affected by the inclusion of female employees within the workplace. For that reason, it has allowed organizations to identify the interrelationship among those selected elements in an appropriate way (Paetkau 2014). Now, inclusion of female employees in the senior management position will encourage other female member of the organizations to give their best at the workplace. It will also help them to perceive as a valuable asset of the organizations. Now, career development opportunity will help organization to retain all the talented female employees for long time period. Thus, system thinking will help organizations to avoid challenges associated with the high employee attrition rate. In addition, motivated workforce will help organizations to reduce the required time for fulfilling all the objectives in an effective manner. Therefore, it will reduce the cost associated with the operational process of the organization. Hence, systematic thinking approach will eventually create positive impact on achieving sustainable growth in the global market (Mihali?, Žabkar and Cvelbar 2012). Moreover, system thinking approach would also help organizations to counter all the market related challenges in a convincing way, which will provide competitive advantage in global market.


On the basis of above analysis it can be said that system thinking approach allows organizations to cover all aspect associated with the sustainability changes. For that reason, it helps organizations to understand the exact amount of positive impact organizations is likely to receive in the long-run. On the other hand, the above analysis also highlighted the fact that traditional thinking approach allows organizations to find temporary solutions to handle internal and external challenges. Therefore, using traditional thinking approach no organizations can achieve sustainable growth in the market. In fact, it will allow other organizations to take advantage of traditional approach, which will eventually create adverse impact on the business process. Thus, system thinking approach is the best possible way for the organizations to counter all the future challenges in an appropriate manner. It will eventually help organizations to fulfil all the aims and objectives in a comprehensive manner. 



Aizstrauta, D. and Ginters, E., 2013. Introducing Integrated Acceptance and Sustainability Assessment of Technologies: a Model based on System Dynamics Simulation. In Modeling and Simulation in Engineering, Economics, and Management (pp. 23-30). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Fiksel, J., 2012. A systems view of sustainability: The triple value model. Environmental Development, 2, pp.138-141.

Frantzeskaki, N., Loorbach, D. and Meadowcroft, J., 2012. Governing societal transitions to sustainability. International Journal of Sustainable Development, 15(1-2), pp.19-36.

Garetti, M. and Taisch, M., 2012. Sustainable manufacturing: trends and research challenges. Production Planning & Control, 23(2-3), pp.83-104.

Hinrichs, C.C., 2014. Transitions to sustainability: a change in thinking about food systems change?. Agriculture and human values, 31(1), pp.143-155.

Holden, E., Linnerud, K. and Banister, D., 2016. The Imperatives of Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development.

Loorbach, D. and Wijsman, K., 2013. Business transition management: exploring a new role for business in sustainability transitions. Journal of cleaner production, 45, pp.20-28.

Markard, J., Raven, R. and Truffer, B., 2012. Sustainability transitions: An emerging field of research and its prospects. Research Policy, 41(6), pp.955-967.

Mihali?, T., Žabkar, V. and Cvelbar, L.K., 2012. A hotel sustainability business model: evidence from Slovenia. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 20(5), pp.701-719.

Nguyen, N.C. and Bosch, O.J., 2013. A systems thinking approach to identify leverage points for sustainability: a case study in the Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve, Vietnam. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 30(2), pp.104-115.

Nguyen, N.C., Graham, D., Ross, H., Maani, K. and Bosch, O., 2012. Educating systems thinking for sustainability: Experience with a developing country. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 29(1), pp.14-29.

Paetkau, L., 2014. The impact of using systems thinking as a core strategy for student learning in a “Global Issues: Citizenship and Sustainability” classroom. MANUSCRIPT SPECIFICATIONS, p.52.

Rauschmayer, F., Omann, I. and Frühmann, J. eds., 2012. Sustainable development: capabilities, needs, and well-being. Routledge.

Tàbara, J.D. and Chabay, I., 2013. Coupling human information and knowledge systems with social–ecological systems change: Reframing research, education, and policy for sustainability. Environmental Science & Policy, 28, pp.71-81.

Turcu, C., 2013. Re-thinking sustainability indicators: local perspectives of urban sustainability. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 56(5), pp.695-719.

Wiek, A., Ness, B., Schweizer-Ries, P., Brand, F.S. and Farioli, F., 2012. From complex systems analysis to transformational change: a comparative appraisal of sustainability science projects. Sustainability Science, 7(1), pp.5-24.


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