Generative research for addressing societal grand challenges: The case of the PIVOT project

About the Research

Social science can complement technological innovation and public policy as humanity attempts to avoid the most terrifying consequences of climate change. Cultural, behavioral, educational and social-psychological interventions can, in theory, be harnessed to induce emission reductions. I will review the theories of change that underlie these types of interventions, their potential to be impactful, their limitations, and the social actors they overlook. Against this backdrop, I will introduce an action research project – PIVOT – designed to lead to the reduction of emissions from small and medium businesses in Canada. This project builds on the science of complex contagion, the strength of norms, and the power of storytelling and narrative. I will survey the successes and shortcomings of the PIVOT project; describe one academic study that it has yielded; and provide some insight about the potential of partnerships between academics and non-academics to devise and conduct generative research that strives to advance scientific knowledge while having a direct and meaningful climate impact.

About Dror Etzion

Dror Etzion is an associate professor of strategy and organization at the Desautels Faculty of Management, and an associate member of the Bieler School of Environment. He is currently a Senior Editor at Organization Studies.
Dror joined McGill in 2008, after completing his Ph.D. studies at IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. Previously, Dror worked for 5 years in the Israeli software industry, and also spent a year at The Natural Step, an international non-profit research and consultancy organization focused on sustainable development.
Dror’s current research program focuses on “grand challenges”: the unyielding, intractable problems that characterize the Anthropocene. His work suggests that managing for sustainability through local, open, emergent initiatives increases the recruitment of diverse stakeholders, fosters creativity, and yields impactful outcomes. In other work he is examining business approaches to managing the energy-water nexus. Dror actively co-leads a McGill wide interdisciplinary research theme on Sustainability Transitions with Jaye Ellis (Law) and Catherine Potvin (Biology).
His research has been published in Academy of Management Review, Journal of Management, Nature Sustainability, Organization Science, Organization Studies, Strategic Management Journal and other outlets. These articles are available on the McGill eScholarship portal and on Google Scholar.

Date: Thursday 16 June, 2022

Time: 12:00-13:30 CET

Venue: Ecully 415 and Zoom

Should you want to attend, please register at