Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration

First Advisor

David L. Levy

Second Advisor

Nardia Haigh

Third Advisor

Banu Özkazanç-Pan


This study examines the process of managing risks from climate change through adaptation in Boston, Massachusetts. Climate adaptation presents a grand challenge for society’s institutions and organizations and will require collective action and large-scale investments. This study enters the emerging conversation about climate adaptation in organization and management scholarship by asking the question: As urban communities adapt to climate change, how are climate risks identified, constructed, or contested across organizational entities? And how do the constructions and process of management serve differing interests? Through this dissertation, I explore how urban climate risks are identified, constructed, and contested across organizational entities. I find that constructing knowledge about climate risks is a process situated in the rift between institutionalized means of managing risks that are based on historical precedent and developing future-oriented approaches that can help plan for climate-related risks. Results indicate that constructed knowledge about climate risk tends to serve in-group interests and leads to incremental change or business as (almost) usual. This study also focuses on the performativity of technologies employed to model flooding to consider why particular actors and models are selected, whose interests they serve, and the implications of this approach. Finally, this study develops a material climate justice framework to explore social (in)equity in climate adaptation.


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