Environmental management and organisations
Environmental management and organisations

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

11 Reflecting on organisations and environment

In reflecting on how an organisation might be linked to its environment, the focus is on the ‘natural’ environment (rather than environment of an organisation in a system sense). Activity 12 will help you clarify your own thinking about this.

Activity 12 Draw a spray diagram

Draw a spray diagram of the main ways in which you think organisations might be linked to the environment.

(Note: guidance on drawing spray diagrams is available in the Guide to Diagrams [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .)


Described image
Figure 10 Spray diagram of organisations and environment

My diagram shows a range of links relating to resources, biodiversity, climate and so on. The headings are quite generic and would vary considerably according to the type of organisation, its activities and its location. After drawing it, I’m not sure that ‘wastes’ is the same type of link as the others – it seems to be in a different category to the others since it is produced by the organisation. Perhaps the next iteration would explore links relating to inputs to the organisation and links relating to the outputs of the organisation.

Unless the organisation exists in a vacuum, it is unavoidable that some kind of relationship exists between an organisation and the natural environment. Your spray diagram will probably have included items relating to energy supply, water, resources for materials, atmospheric emissions of some sort and possibly waste. Maybe you also included the physical space they occupy.

You may have noted that the links can relate to the things an organisation needs to exist as an entity and also to perform their various roles and activities – e.g. land and water for the organisation to exist, and raw materials for making some kind of product. An organisation can thus be both dependent on its environment and also have significant impacts upon it (although the dependency and impacts may not occur in the same geographic locale of natural environment). It is quite difficult to see this from a spray diagram. An alternative way of structuring and representing the range of relationships between an organisation and the environment is to use an input–output model.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371