Authoritarianism, oligarchy, localism or democratization? Alternative pathways for the green transition

The joint CERIC & LESS Group seminar is presented by Zlatko Bodrožić (Leeds). This is an in-person event that will also be live-streamed via Zoom.

Register here


There is considerable debate over the path of the green transition. In this talk, Zlatko Bodrožić, discusses four possible pathways defined by our collective choices as concerns organization models and public policy: authoritarianism, oligarchy, localism, and democratization. Presenting a study co-authored with Paul Adler, Bodrožić will argue that the green transition resembles in many respects the major technological revolutions we have witnessed over the past two centuries. He will outline a theoretical framework that builds on Schumpeter’s historical insights into economy-wide technological revolutions and on the work of several scholars who have extended his work. This historical perspective brings into focus how the paths taken by these revolutions were shaped by societal choices in two spheres: first, in the public policy sphere, where the choice concerns the role of the state in the economy, and second, in the organizational sphere, where the choice concerns the role of employees in organizations and of citizens in the state. Bodrožić and Adler locate the main alternative pathways on a map that combines those two axes. The first axis is defined by whether the public policy regime is oriented toward laissez-faire, relying on the primacy of private value creation and on the market as the primary coordinating mechanism, or toward a regime in which the state plays a more transformative, system-building role in the economy. The second axis is defined by whether the dominant model of organization in employer/employee and government/citizen relations is a command model, relying on hierarchical authority as the primary organizing principle, or a more collaborative, participative, and enabling model, relying on community rather than hierarchy. Bringing the two main alternative choices for these two axes together in a 2 × 2 matrix, Bodrožić and Adler identify four possible pathways—authoritarianism, oligarchy, localism, and democratization—for confronting the climate crisis, and assess their strengths and weaknesses.


Zlatko Bodrožić is an Associate Professor of Technology, Organization and Sustainability, and co-leader of the LESS research group on system-level sustainability at the University of Leeds. Zlatko's research focuses on epochal transformation processes—in particular on the green transition and the digital transformation. To explain and enable us to shape epochal transformation processes, Zlatko studies the interplay of the evolution of technologies, organisational paradigms, and public policy (see for example Administrative Science Quarterly, March 2018; Organization Science, January/February 2022). At the European Group of Organizational Studies conferences, he acts as co-coordinator of the Standing Working Group “Organization Studies in the Anthropocene: System Change, Not Climate Change” (2021-2024).

LESS Research Group 

This webinar is part of a new series launched by the LESS research group and supported by CERIC. Currently, we are all very concerned and stressed due to the health, energy and social crises. Putting the current crises into a longer-term perspective, we might ask ourselves whether a political-economic and cultural system which struggles to deal with the present challenges will have the capacity to deal with the climate crisis adequately. If your answer to this question is as pessimistic as ours, you might be interested in joining the LESS group — a new cross-divisional group at LUBS to explore system-level sustainability research, open to all researchers regardless of disciplinary background or prior experience in sustainability research. We are inspired by a growing number of studies, which argue that the climate crisis requires radical change of the political-economic and cultural structure within which organizations and individuals operate. The mission of the LESS group is to advance interdisciplinary efforts to develop system-level research that addresses the climate emergency.

To join the LESS group please contact either of LESS' co-leaders:
Zlatko Bodrožić
Vera Trappmann 

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