Title: Analysis and ecological improvement of the use-time of PCs and laptops in small organisations : an action research approach towards sustainable consumption
Language: English
Authors: Padalewski, Olivia 
Qualification level: Diploma
Advisor: Steinhardt, Gerald 
Issue Date: 2016
Number of Pages: 220
Qualification level: Diploma
Electronic waste has become a challenging global problem facing severe environmental as well as moral implications. It is the result of our today's unsustainable consumption patterns, which are of complex structure and have been influenced by various aspects like 'planned obsolescence', the belief in a 'throw-away mentality' or scaled down expectations of a device's life span and/or use-time. Cooper introduced the concept of 'relative obsolescence' addressing the phenomenon, that individuals tend to use their electronic goods for ever shorter periods of time and replace them long before they actually reach their end of usability. In addition, his study revealed that nearly 60% of discarded computers were still functional, contributing to the relevance of this topic (Cooper 2004). Thus, one step towards sustainable consumption is the decrease of turnover rates, or in other words, the prolonging of a device's use-time. Studies so far have extensively investigated causes for quick replacement strategies and possibilities to improve the use-time of electronic goods on the level of private households. However, the corporate sector, which faces additional constraints, has been largely neglected. As the application of those findings in an organisational setting is limited, the present thesis focuses on analysing and improving the use-time of PCs as well as laptops, and its related practices in a small organisation. These devices generally experience a relatively short use-time, are subject to quick innovation cycles and are rather expensive making repair reasonably worthwhile. To achieve valuable insights that go beyond conventional approaches, action research was conducted to develop improvement possibilities on site and simultaneously increase the scientific knowledge base. Action research typically comprises the creation of "spaces in which participants engage together in cycles of action and critical reflection" (McArdle / Reason 2008, p.125). Data was gathered as well as analysed by applying qualitative research methods. The process was documented in form of an action process log and action research reflection tool and knowledge claims were grounded on various sources not only to establish validity, but also to provide accurate evidence. The main outcome as regards content was an evidence-based guideline towards an improved use-time, based on the elaborated, discussed, reflected and evaluated actions performed. Moreover, the reflection upon the process itself revealed relevant findings for future work in this field and the appropriateness of action research to promote pro-environmental changes in (small) organisations. On a third level, the researcher herself evaluated the entire process with regard to communication, effort, emerged resistances and her role as a researcher in the conducted participatory approach.
Keywords: Nutzungsdauer; Aktionsforschung; umweltschonende Veränderungsprozesse; nachhaltiger Konsum; Praktiken; Lebensdauer; Elektronikschrott; Relative Obsoleszenz; Kreislaufwirtschaft; Abfallhierarchie
use-time; action research; pro-environmental change; sustainable consumption; practices; life span; e-waste; relative obsolescence; circular economy; waste management hierarchy
URI: https://resolver.obvsg.at/urn:nbn:at:at-ubtuw:1-1332
Library ID: AC13080999
Organisation: E187 - Institut für Gestaltungs- und Wirkungsforschung 
Publication Type: Thesis
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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