Understanding and responding to the climate change issue: Towards a whole-of-science research agenda

Charmine E J Härtel, Graeme I. Pearman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Much of human behavior and the very fabric of our economies and culture relate to the nature of our climate, its regularity/variability and severity. Climate change should therefore be a central field of inquiry in the social, behavioral and organizational sciences generally. This is especially so given that much of the observed and current climate change is attributed with a high degree of confidence to human activities and further change is anticipated. Whilst historically biophysical research has tended to dominate attention to the climate-change issue, there is an emerging literature examining laypeople's environment-related knowledge structures and the changes in attitudes, beliefs and behaviors required to effectively implement responses to the issues raised by the physical sciences. However, there are limitations in this literature, particularly regarding how scientists themselves engage with and capture emerging knowledge related to the issue. Although there is a broad consensus that the environmental problems we are experiencing are essentially social, organizational and behavioral problems, insufficient attention has been given to the issue of how to cultivate a cross disciplinary approach to address what is a complex and systemic problem (Cash et al., 2006). This article seeks to bring that issue into focus and offers a whole-of-science agenda for climate-change related research. It is essential that social, behavioral and organizational scientists accept greater responsibility for helping to address and facilitate the social, attitudinal, behavioral and management changes required to ameliorate and respond to the environmental deterioration identified by research in the physical sciences. The need for further and ongoing multi-disciplinary and international research is both necessary and pressing. Moreover, it is an ethical and practical responsibility that individuals of all scientific persuasions cannot afford to shirk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-47
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Management and Organization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Anthropogenic interference
  • Attitudinal change
  • Biophysical science
  • Climate change research
  • Environmental deterioration
  • Social, organizational and behavioral science
  • Whole-of-science agenda

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