- 20 Sep 2013
- Working Paper Summaries
This paper examines the emergence of environmental strategies in the chemical industry between the 1950s and the 1980s. German chemical firms have been hailed as "eco-pioneers" in this regard, but this study demonstrates that initially the leading chemical companies of both Germany and the United States followed a similar approach to societal concerns about environmental pollution. Both German and American firms suggested that pollution incidents and complaints were a matter for local responses, tailored to specific settings, and should be considered primarily as nuisances rather than as environmental or health hazards. By the 1970s, however, the evolution of environmental strategies in the German chemical industry diverged greatly from that of the United States. This working paper explores how and why by examining the strategies of two prominent German chemical companies, Bayer and Henkel. The German firms diverged from their American counterparts in using public relations strategies not only to contain fallout from criticism of their pollution impact, but also to create opportunities for changes in corporate culture to encourage sustainability. While the US chemical industry remained defensive and focused on legal compliance, there was a greater proactivity among the German firms. The study stresses the importance of the regional embeddedness of Bayer and Henkel in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which made their reputations especially vulnerable to criticism. A new generation of corporate leaders also perceived that more reactive strategies were needed to fulfill societal expectations. They were savvy enough to understand that investing in environmental sustainability could provide an opportunity to create value for the firm, and that self-identifying as eco-pioneers had commercial as well as reputational benefits, provided that the image reflected genuine policies and processes. Key concepts include: Leading German chemical companies have been regarded and self-identified as "eco-pioneers," but before the 1970s their environmental strategies were broadly similar to their U.S. counterparts. Subsequently the German firms became more proactive in their environmental strategies. The regional embeddedness of Bayer and Henkel in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia emerges as an important determinant of their emergent green strategies. The firms had deep reputational stakes invested in their region and were highly exposed to criticism of their environmental impact. Corporate leaders of Henkel and Bayer were early movers in understanding that investing in environmental sustainability could provide an opportunity to create value for their firms. Closed for comment; 0 Comment(s) posted.
- 30 Nov 2010
- Working Paper Summaries
The New Face of Chinese Industrial Policy: Making Sense of Anti-Dumping Cases in the Petrochemical and Steel Industry
The researchers set out to explain differences in China's antidumping actions against importers in the petrochemical and steel industries. During the study period, 66 percent of the country's antidumping cases targeted petrochemical imports, while steel imports were targeted only in 5 percent of the cases. Why did China's petrochemical and steel industries behave so differently in seeking trade protection? The answers put forward by researchers Regina Abrami (Harvard Business School) and Yu Zheng (University of Connecticut) point toward the structural nature of the industries themselves, and against arguments that antidumping actions in China have been driven by retaliation or national industrial strategy alone. Key concepts include: Existing patterns of antidumping investigations in China mainly reflect how firms may respond to economic challenges in the context of structural constraints. Rather than serving as a defense against global competition, strong local interests in China seem to be facilitating it. They do so by getting in the way of the kinds of industrial consolidations that seem necessary to wage successful battles through antidumping mechanisms. The research does not dismiss a role for economic or political interests as motivating factors, but does suggest that in their own right they cannot explain fully the patterns that exist. The research demonstrates that domestic business interest groups can influence state policy outcomes in China; that their ability to do so is closely related to resolution of collective action problems; and that Chinese industrial strategy is a far less coordinated political outcome than the increasingly popular idea of "China Inc." suggests. Closed for comment; 0 Comment(s) posted.
- 06 Nov 2008
- Working Paper Summaries
Managing products at the end of life (EOL) is of growing concern for durable goods manufacturers. While some manufacturers engage in voluntary "take back" of EOL products for a variety of competitive reasons, the past 10 years have seen the rapid proliferation of government regulations and policies requiring manufacturers to collect and recycle their products, or pay others to do so on their behalf. Toffel, Stein, and Lee develop a framework for evaluating the extent to which these product take-back regulations offer the potential to reduce the environmental impacts of these products in an effective and cost-efficient manner, while also providing adequate occupational health and safety protection. The evaluation framework is illustrated with examples drawn from take-back regulations in Europe, Japan, and the United States. Key concepts include: The authors identify key policy levers that promote cost efficiency while reducing risks to the environment, public health, and the workers involved in recovery operations. Key policy decisions include setting the scope of manufacturer responsibilities, the stringency of recovery and recycling targets, design-for-environment requirements and substance bans, restrictions on when customer fees can be imposed, and limitations on the industrial organization of the recycling market. Closed for comment; 0 Comment(s) posted.
- 14 Jan 2008
- Research & Ideas
Where are the biggest polluters? And what is your company doing to protect the environment? A new Web site—both a public service and a research tool—posts managers' data in real time, allowing a balanced view of industrial environmental performance. HBS professor Michael W. Toffel and senior research fellow Andrew A. King explain. Key concepts include: The Web project was started to get around an information bottleneck. Users of MapEcos can easily find detailed information on the environmental performance of facilities across the United States. Managers can monitor peer companies' environmental information as well as disclose information about their own facilities. The scholars use the site to examine what industrial facilities do and what the public at large is concerned about. Closed for comment; 0 Comment(s) posted.
- 25 Apr 2005
- Research & Ideas