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Deniz Koca. Photo.

Deniz Koca


Deniz Koca. Photo.

Defining a free market: drivers of unsustainability as illustrated with an example of shrimp farming in the mangrove forest in South East Asia


  • Harald Sverdrup
  • Deniz Koca
  • Kristin Vala Ragnarsdottir

Summary, in English

We apply causal loop diagrams (CLD) to picture how complex societal scenarios can be understood in terms of interdependent drivers and mechanisms between actors from the public and private sectors respectively. And we show how un-sustainable scenarios can be understood in terms of insufficient balancing feed-back in the system. We apply the methodology to picture such imbalances as funda- mental drivers behind the tragedy of the commons. And we apply it to go deeper into a specific business example in this context, a complex case of resource exploitation in Far East Asia. The CLD analyses inform a discussion on the interplay between societies on the one hand, represented by the Government and its legislature, and the private sector with its companies, consumers and market on the other. Our study confirms that unsustainability can only be understood and addressed at the systemic level, encom- passing both natural and social systems, where also the virtual and emergent systems of modern civi- lization are considered. The results show that a market economy can only be sustainable as well as really free, when embedded in a systemic and balanced interplay between the actors on the arena. The pro- vision of the market arena with well thought-through rules of the game, offered by a well-functioning democratic society, is needed. The challenge for leaders in business and society is to be able to grasp the causalities of the whole system, and let this guide and shape sustainable goals as well as leadership and management in coherence with such goals.


  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year







Journal of Cleaner Production





Document type

Journal article




  • Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries
  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


  • Free market
  • Systems analysis
  • Tragedy of the commons
  • Sustainability
  • Market failures
  • Leadership




  • ISSN: 0959-6526