After Greenwashing: Symbolic Corporate Environmentalism and by Frances Bowen

By Frances Bowen

Companies advertise their environmental knowledge via eco-friendly structures, eco-labels, sustainability reviews, pledges and fresh applied sciences. while are those symbols wasteful company spin, and while do they sign actual environmental advancements? in keeping with two decades of study, 3 wealthy case reports, a powerful theoretical version and various functional functions, this ebook offers the 1st systematic research of the drivers and effects of symbolic company environmentalism. It addresses the oblique price of businesses' symbolic activities and develops a brand new suggestion of the 'social strength penalty' - the fee to society while strong company actors restrict the social dialog on environmental difficulties and their suggestions. This considerate e-book develops a suite of instruments for researchers, regulators and bosses to split important environmental details from empty company spin, and should attract researchers and scholars of company accountability, company environmental method and sustainable enterprise, in addition to environmental practitioners.

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Extra info for After Greenwashing: Symbolic Corporate Environmentalism and Society (Organizations and the Natural Environment)

Example text

In greenwashing, there is no necessary link between the symbol and materially improved environmental performance. Greenwashing is a special case within symbolic corporate environmentalism in which firms deliberately manipulate symbols so as to open up a gap between their symbolic and substantive performance. Symbolic corporate environmentalism is both broader and more nuanced. This concept captures all of the shared meanings relative to changes that managers make for environmental reasons. All corporate environmental practices have both material and symbolic components (Forbes and Jermier 2012).

In the transition to a more formalised approach in the management research literature, we somehow acquired the assumption that greenwashing is, by definition, a company-led activity. Many greenwashing examples are promulgated by companies, but other social actors can spread disinformation or deflect attention on green issues as well. Governments, public sector organisations, individual politicians and even NGOs have all been criticised for communicating false progress on environmental issues. Although recent greenwashing literature focuses on greenwashing in voluntary, industry-led regulation, we must understand a firm’s environmental strategies in a context in which formal environmental regulation also may be primarily symbolic (Matten 2003; Newig 2007).

A thorough analysis of corporate environmentalism should begin with understanding the key assumptions and concerns of both the critical and the conventional perspectives. The conventional perspective Corporate strategy is about matching a firm’s internal resources with its external surroundings in order to secure advantage for the firm in the long term. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, managers began to adjust their strategies in response to changes to external environmental demands.

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