آیا سبز و سود آور قابل تحمل است؟ بررسی تجارت کردن بین جنبه های اقتصادی و زیست محیطی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|25413||2012||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9011 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Production Economics, Volume 140, Issue 1, November 2012, Pages 92–102
Businesses are more and more confronted with demands to play an active role to reduce environmental burdens effectively and to help to achieve environmental sustainability. We question the suitability of the green business case and argue that corporate environmental strategies need to aim at the creation of environmental value alongside economic value rather than the creation of economic value through environmental management. Three shortcomings of the green business case limit its usefulness to develop suitable corporate sustainability strategies. We contrast the green business case with an opportunity cost based approach for assessing the environmental performance of firms. Our argument is then applied to an integrated analysis of the financial, carbon and VOC-performance of 16 major car manufacturers worldwide to illustrate how companies respond to the twofold scarcity of economic capital and natural resources as well as the role of proactive technology choices in this context. Our analysis shows how firms can go beyond the standard green business case that ultimately limits environmental strategies to increasing capital efficiency. We argue that by applying the well established notion of opportunity costs to the assessment of environmental resources besides economic capital, companies can identify strategies that create economic and environmental value and help to maximise the contribution to sustainability rather than to economic capital efficiency alone.
For more than 25 years both scholars and practitioners in the area of environmental management and strategy have strived to establish the so-called “green business case”. There are numerous empirical studies (for an overview see e.g. Margolis and Walsh, 2003 and Orlitzky et al., 2003) and contributions that aim to show that and how environmental strategies pay off financially (ArthurD.Little, 2000, Epstein and Roy, 2003, Hart and Milstein, 2003, Orsato, 2006 and Schaltegger and Figge, 2000), portraying the green business case as the gold standard for business to respond to environmental aspects and challenges (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2000). At its core, the green business case posits that suitable strategies for sustainable businesses exploit win–win situations that reconcile environmental protection and financial success. Accordingly, it has been argued that environmental measures and activities such as environmental impact assessment (Bruhn-Tysk and Eklund, 2002 and Lawrence, 1997), design for environment (Fiksel, 1996), pollution prevention and cleaner production (Bullinger et al., 1999), or environmental management systems (González-Benito and González-Benito, 2008 and Vastag et al., 1996) are associated positively with gaining competitive advantages and higher financial performance (Elkington, 1994 and Salzmann et al., 2005). Following this logic environmental investments and proactive environmental strategies are drivers of economic value creation as they contribute to achieving abnormal risk-adjusted returns on capital. Companies can achieve such win–win situations for instance through cost reductions due to less resource and energy use, higher revenues through new products and services or lower capital intensity through lean production (Epstein and Young, 1998, Florida, 1996, Hart and Milstein, 2003, King and Lenox, 2001, Orsato, 2006 and Schaltegger and Figge, 2000). Overall, the green business case is concerned with defining environmental strategies that pay off financially in order to bring environmental management in line with shareholder wealth creation (Reinhardt, 2000). The aim of the green business case is therefore to arrive at a more efficient use of economic capital. With the increasing salience of environmental issues such as climate change, businesses and the private sector are more and more confronted with demands to play an active role to reduce environmental burdens effectively and to help to achieve environmental sustainability (Bansal, 2002, Hoffman, 2005, Kolk and Pinkse, 2005, Levy, 1997 and Reilly, 1999). Due to regulation and market pressures companies and managers face increasing environmental scarcities for instance with regard to carbon and greenhouse gas emissions and climate change issues. From this perspective environmental strategies are those strategies that enhance corporate environmental performance rather than only financial performance. The aim of environmental strategies is therefore to use less environmental resources per unit of production, i.e. to arrive at a more efficient use of environmental resources. This is reflected in the concept of eco-efficiency (McIntyre and Thornton, 1978 and World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 1996). The growing importance of environmental and sustainability concerns questions whether the green business case, with its focus on a higher return on economic capital, can be the dominant strategic response to sustainable business development, which requires a more efficient use of environmental resources. By critically examining the green business case and the underlying win–win paradigm we identify three major shortcomings of the green business case as a suitable response to sustainability challenges. These limitations follow from the business cases's inherent dominance of economic value creation over environmental concerns (Hahn and Figge, 2011). We contrast the green business case with an opportunity cost based approach for assessing the environmental performance of firms and show how companies can identify strategies that aim at the creation of both economic and environmental value separately. The automobile industry is one of the most important industrial sectors in terms of its economic and environmental impact in the developed world. We therefore choose this sector to apply our argument to an integrated analysis of the financial, carbon and VOC-performance of 16 major car manufacturers worldwide to illustrate how companies respond to the twofold scarcity of economic capital and natural resources as well as the role of proactive technology choices in this context.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In the light of global ecological problems such as climate change and increasing environmental regulation, the green business case has gained ever more popularity among business decision makers and is being promoted as the gold standard of business responses to environmental challenges. More and more companies understand that they are facing environmental constraints and scarcities in addition to economic scarcities. The standard management response to scarcities is the efficient use of scarce resources. The green business case, however, addresses environmental scarcities through the lens of capital efficiency. Environmental aspects are assessed according to their contribution to financial performance in terms of risk-adjusted return on capital and environmental strategies are designed to generate financial returns (Aragón-Correa and Rubio-López, 2007 and Aragón-Correa and Sharma, 2003). From this perspective environmental strategies appear as just another way of increasing economic value creation. As a result, environmental aspects are subordinated to financial outcomes. The important question of an efficient use of environmental resources is not addressed by the green business case. In this article we point to the limits of the business case and argue that companies need to contribute to environmental sustainability by treating environmental aspects as an end in itself rather than as a means to create economic value (Dyllick and Hockerts, 2002, Gladwin et al., 1995 and Marshall and Brown, 2003). We show that the green business case does not provide a suitable basis for corporate environmental strategies in this context. The green business case will always prioritise win–win situations over trade-off situations, even if trade-offs may result in overall positive sustainability effects (Hahn et al., 2010b). As a result, managers following the green business case paradigm will not identify and define strategies that provide the best overall corporate sustainability performance. In this article we argue that suitable corporate strategies in the context of sustainable development need to address environmental concerns on a par with financial aspects rather than as subordinates to financial outcomes. The extended value-based perspective on environmental performance adopted here shows that for doing so companies do not have to abandon or reject the notion of efficiency when they define environmental strategies. Rather, by applying the well-established notion of opportunity costs to environmental resources and economic capital companies can identify strategies to create environmental value alongside economic value. Managers can use this principle to define strategies that create environmental value through using environmental resources more efficiently than the market. Such an extended value-based analysis represents a fundamental perspective on environmental strategy compared to the instrumental subordination that occurs with the green business case. It follows that suitable corporate sustainability strategies will consider economic and environmental value creation as complements. Two implications of the extended value-based perspective adopted in this article are most noteworthy. First, as the analysis of the financial and CO2-performance of the car manufacturing sector worldwide over a five year period reveals, economic value creation and environmental value creation are not always in line. Most interesting and most challenging for corporate decision makers are trade-off cases like the French car manufacturer Renault and Japan's Daihatsu. The integrated analysis presented in this article shows how such trade-off situations can be assessed. As soon as environmental outperformance is sufficiently strong to compensate the financial underperformance (as found with Renault in our practical application) there is a positive overall sustainability effect of a company's strategy. This positive overall sustainability effect holds despite the financial underperformance. Note that following a green business case logic this positive sustainability effect will go unnoticed. Second, our analysis of the VOC-performance of 16 car manufacturers reveals that proactive environmental strategies can be more than a driver of economic value as put forward by the green business case. As could be seen car manufacturers with proactive coating and painting technology choices tend to generate environmental value in that they use their environmental resources more efficiently than their peers. Consequently, from a sustainability perspective, the definition and implementation of environmental strategies (Maxwell et al., 1997) needs to take into account environmental value creation independently from economic value creation. By doing so, managers can go beyond business as usual, avoid the limitations of the green business case and realise the full potential of corporate contributions to sustainable development. In view of the advent of new and increasing environmental challenges, more stringent environmental regulations, stakeholder pressures and resource scarcities companies the suitability of the green business case as the leading principle for corporate sustainability strategies is thus limited. Corporate strategies that take sustainable development seriously will aim at a value-creating use of both economic capital as well as environmental resources. By embracing the notion of opportunity costs and applying it to environmental resources companies can develop strategies that create economic and environmental value and not just economic value through environmental management. Business principles such as opportunity cost thinking can be applied fruitfully to respond proactively to environmental challenges—if they are applied wisely. The green business case provides a first step towards suitable corporate sustainability strategies at best.