"Die now of hunger or later of thirst": Understanding Vulnerable Organizations Adaptation to Climate Change

Mar, 10/05/2022 - 11:30 / 12:30

401, Viale Romania

Speaker: Lucrezia Nava , University of Cambridge Judge Business School


The consequences of climate change are already inexorably altering the organizational environment, especially in tropical countries, where adaptation to climate change is no longer a matter of strategic choice but a prerogative for the survival of entire supply chains. While studies of organizational adaptation have begun to emerge, these studies are based on industrialized countries and little is known about what explains decision makers' response to climate change in vulnerable settings. Drawing on a unique, longitudinal dataset of over 3000 agricultural producers in Brazil, a particularly vulnerable context, and using a mixed-methods approach, we develop and test a framework to understand what explains the adaptive responses to climate change that decision makers in vulnerable organizations pursue. In contrast to the evidence from developed countries, we find that experiencing the effects of climate change is likely to increase maladaptive rather than adaptive responses, generating vicious cycles that intensify vulnerability. We identify two main mechanisms for this relationship, namely increased risk perception and reduced coping capacity perception. In contrast to what the literature on adaptation in industrialized contexts predicts, we find that these mechanisms hinder engagement with adaptive responses due to a set of psychological barriers that characterize vulnerable contexts. We conclude with theoretical and practical implications for the study of organizational responses to climate change.