Understanding How Sustainability Initiatives Fail: A Framework to Aid Design of Effective Interventions

<jats:sec><jats:title>Background:/jats:title<jats:p> Many sustainability initiatives are successful and produce results that benefit the environment. However, others miss the mark and fail to produce the desired outcome. Past research has typically focused on understanding why initiatives fail, without first considering differences in how they fail. /jats:p/jats:sec<jats:sec><jats:title>Focus of the Article:/jats:title<jats:p> This manuscript is related to Research and Evaluation—specifically, the social marketing concept it focuses on is evaluating the outcome of sustainability initiatives. /jats:p/jats:sec<jats:sec><jats:title>Research Question:/jats:title<jats:p> What are the different ways in which sustainability initiatives can fail? /jats:p/jats:sec<jats:sec><jats:title>Program Design/Approach:/jats:title<jats:p> A multi-day workshop of interdisciplinary behavioral sustainability scholars led to the identification of five systematic differences in how sustainability initiatives can fail, suggesting that failure can take on not only different levels of severity, but different forms altogether. Within this framework, we provide examples of each type of failure. /jats:p/jats:sec<jats:sec><jats:title>Importance to the Social Marketing Field:/jats:title<jats:p> We argue that diagnosing how instead of just why an initiative fails offers important insights that can reduce the likelihood of future failures—insights that may be missed by a narrow focus on the why behind any given failure. /jats:p/jats:sec<jats:sec><jats:title>Recommendations for Research or Practice:/jats:title<jats:p> The identification of the different ways in which sustainability initiatives fail can lead to improvements in the design and implementation of behavioral interventions, facilitating successful sustainability outcomes and preventing unintended outcomes. Specific recommendations are discussed for each type of failure. /jats:p/jats:sec<jats:sec><jats:title>Limitations:/jats:title<jats:p> The examples in our framework are not exhaustive, but are instead intended to be illustrative exemplars of each type of failure. Moreover, as our focus is on how sustainability initiatives fail, we do not attempt to diagnose why particular initiatives fail. /jats:p/jats:sec

Brough, Understanding How Sustainability Initiatives Fail: A Framework to Aid Design of Effective Interventions, 'Social Marketing Quarterly' (26, 4) pp. 309-324. Copyright © 2020. DOI: 10.1177/1524500420970129. Users who receive access to an article through a repository are reminded that the article is protected by copyright and reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses. Users may also download and save a local copy of an article accessed in an institutional repository for the user's personal reference. For permission to reuse an article, please follow our Process for Requesting Permission.



Work Title Understanding How Sustainability Initiatives Fail: A Framework to Aid Design of Effective Interventions
Open Access
  1. Aaron R. Brough
  2. Grant E. Donnelly
  3. Vladas Griskevicius
  4. Ezra M. Markowitz
  5. Kaitlin T. Raimi
  6. Crystal Reeck
  7. Remi Trudel
  8. Kurt B. Waldman
  9. Karen Page Winterich
  10. Kimberly S. Wolske
License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives)
Work Type Article
  1. SAGE Publications
Publication Date November 10, 2020
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
  1. 10.1177/1524500420970129
  1. Social Marketing Quarterly
Deposited September 09, 2021




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Brough+et+al.+2020+SMQ+post-print-1-2.pdf
  • Added Creator Aaron R. Brough
  • Added Creator Grant E. Donnelly
  • Added Creator Vladas Griskevicius
  • Added Creator Ezra M. Markowitz
  • Added Creator Kaitlin T. Raimi
  • Added Creator Crystal Reeck
  • Added Creator Remi Trudel
  • Added Creator Kurt B. Waldman
  • Added Creator Karen Page Winterich
  • Added Creator Kimberly S. Wolske
  • Published
  • Updated
  • Updated