Professor Andy Hoffman faculty at the University of Michigan's Erb Institute for Sustainability in Business, shares his research on "Profit, Regs, and Rep: Why Companies Reduce Their Footprint." This research is especially relevant today in the midst of COP23 where U.S. businesses are operating in the absence of federal regulation mandating compliance in carbon reductions. So, why are businesses reducing their carbon footprint? The business case!
Do hybrid organizations structures allow for improved corporate sustainability?
There has been increasing discussion of the need to "reconceptualize firms and their objectives and to create business models that actively address ecological and social issues while remaining economically viable (Harding, 2004; Thompson & Doherty, 2006). These models have been termed blended value (Miller, Dawans, & Alter, 2009) or shared value and seek to create “economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges” (Porter & Kramer, 2011: 4)"
While many companies are already engaging with climate change and an array of other environmental issues, water is quickly emerging as an impactful driver of both business risk and opportunity in the 21st century. Water is a critical input for many supply chains, providing energy and both direct and indirect materials for production as well as giving life to essential natural resources beyond the company gates.
Dr. Montgomery currently holds a Visiting Research Scholar position at the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute | Business for Sustainability. She is also cross-appointed at the University of Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER). Her research focuses on emerging pressures on water resources and institutions, specifically tensions over public versus private management of municipal water services and the impact of the UN’s recognition of a human right to water.
Government policy, non-governmental organization (NGO) evaluations and advocacy, and university research each perform important roles in this transition. However, the primary focus and responsibility for circular economy implementation lies in the management and strategic alignment of value chains across individual business sectors as this will be the area of greater impact and market scale.
On the face of it, Bill McKibben’s effort through 350.org to have universities divest fossil fuel assets had limited success. Only a handful of institutions pledged to divest and it didn’t affect the stocks of fossil fuel companies.
Language choice Labels and metaphors are powerful. Well-chosen ones evoke positive imagery, emotions and values, while poorly chosen ones can be disastrous. For example, “global warming” is a much more divisive term than “climate change.”
Should we focus on persuading the deniers...? Without any thoughts I will tell you that on the table. Do not waste time with people who have already formed their opinion and are unwilling to withdraw from their position. We should concentrate on those people who are not sure, but willing to listen to your views.