Environmental Sustainability

73 Results

 

Who Is the Chief Sustainability Officer?

There are only a few dozen chief sustainability officers in American companies, although their number has been growing rapidly. A new study by George Serafeim and Kathleen Miller explains who they are, where they come from, and how to make them more effective. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

The Business of Climate Change

What is the role of business and its leaders in creating positive climate change? In the middle of Climate Week, Six Harvard Business School faculty provide different perspectives. Closed for comment; 4 Comments posted.

The ABCs of Addressing Climate Change (From a Business Perspective)

How can business leaders cut through the noise and actively address climate change from an economic perspective? John Macomber proposes a list of ABCs. Closed for comment; 0 Comments posted.

Stop Thinking of Climate Change as a Religious or Political Issue

Private and public innovation around cleaning up our environment will be motivated only if prices reflect the true state of the world, says Forest Reinhardt. Closed for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Tackling Climate Change Will Cost Less Than We Think

Yes, addressing climate change will be expensive, but not nearly as much as the costs of delaying action, argues Rebecca Henderson. Closed for comment; 6 Comments posted.

The Climate Needs Aggressive CEO Leadership

History will judge CEOs not just on their stewardship of firm growth, but also on whether they effectively used their clout to address one of the greatest societal challenges of our time, say Michael Toffel and Auden Schendler. Closed for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Take a Trim Tab Approach to Climate Change

Often depicted as greedy and shortsighted, business leaders face a crucial opportunity on the issue of climate change to change that perception, says Amy Edmondson. Closed for comment; 1 Comment posted.

We Need a Miracle. New Nuclear Might Provide it.

New nuclear power technology could be the miracle we need to combat dangerous carbon emissions, says Joe Lassiter. Closed for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Chief Sustainability Officers: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

A number of studies document how organizations go through numerous stages as they increase their commitment to sustainability over time. However, we still know little about the role of the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) in this process. Using survey and interview data, the authors of this paper analyze how CSOs' authority and responsibilities differ across organizations that are in different stages of sustainability commitment. The study documents the increased authority that CSOs have in companies that are in more advanced stages of sustainability. But while CSOs assume more responsibilities initially as the organization's commitment to sustainability increases, CSOs decentralize decision rights and allocate responsibilities to the different functions and business units. Furthermore, the authors document that a firm's sustainability strategy becomes significantly more idiosyncratic in the later stages of sustainability, a factor that influences significantly where in the organization responsibility for sustainability issues is located. The study also reflects on the best avenues for future research about CSOs and transformation at the institutional, organizational, and individual levels. This article is a chapter of the forthcoming book Leading Sustainable Change (Oxford University Press). Read More

The Role of the Corporation in Society: An Alternative View and Opportunities for Future Research

Neoclassical economics and several management theories assert that the corporation's sole objective is maximizing shareholder wealth. Despite these theoretical approaches, however, actual corporate conduct in some cases is inconsistent with shareholder value maximization as the sole objective of the corporation. In fact, corporations are now engaging in environmental and social causes with multiple stakeholders in mind and this is especially true for the world's largest corporations. Overall, the author presents an alternative view of the role of the corporation in society where the objective of the corporation is a function of its size. Specifically, the largest corporations are forced to balance different stakeholders' interests instead of simply maximizing shareholder wealth. The author attributes this change in the role of the corporation to the increasing concentration of economic activity and power in a few corporations which has resulted in 1) a few companies having a very large impact on society, 2) corporations and influential actors which are easier to locate, and 3) increasing separation of ownership and control. These events have led to what scholars Berle and Means (1932) predicted more than 80 years ago: both owners and "the control" accepting public interest as the objective of the corporation. Further research on the topics outlined in this paper may increase our understanding of corporate behavior and the role of these corporations in society. Read More

Corporate and Integrated Reporting: A Functional Perspective

Corporate reporting plays two functions. The first is an "information function" that enables counterparties, such as investors, employees, customers, and regulators, to enter into an exchange of goods and services under specific terms. Companies also benefit from the information function by comparing their performance against peers, thereby informing internal resource allocation decisions. The second is a "transformation function," the result of a company engaging with stakeholders to get their input on the company's resource allocation decisions. The authors argue that integrated reporting is more likely to perform effectively these two functions than separate financial and sustainability reporting. Moreover, as the authors argue, these two functions vary in terms of how important the role of regulation is. Regulation and standard setting is likely to improve the information function but could well impede the transformation function. If regulation is too prescriptive and "rules-based," the risk is that integrated reporting becomes more of a compliance exercise. Read More

Calderón: Economic Arguments Needed to Fight Climate Change

Former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón says the United States Congress and Chinese coal plants are the biggest obstacles to fixing climate change. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

When Do Alliances Make Sense?

Analyzing drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico, John Beshears explores a question as old as business itself: When does it pay to make an alliance? Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

The Surprising Link Between Language and Corporate Responsibility

Research by Christopher Marquis shows that a company's degree of social responsibility is affected by a surprising factor—the language it uses to communicate. Open for comment; 21 Comments posted.

Speaking of Corporate Social Responsibility

While many scholars have observed that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a deeply cultural process, there are inconsistent findings on the specific cultural mechanisms by which culture affects CSR. This paper suggests that the way in which corporations use language is a strong predictor of their CSR and sustainability practices. It addresses two questions: 1) Why do CSR practices vary significantly across countries? And 2) How does the future-time orientation of companies' working languages affect their adoption of, compliance to, and engagement in corporate social responsibility programs? Building on the future-time criterion of scholars Dahl (2000) and Chen (2013), which separates languages into two broad categories-those languages that require future events to be grammatically marked when making predictions, and those that do not-the authors examine thousands of global companies across 59 countries from 1999 to 2011. The empirical results support the hypothesis that languages that grammatically separate the current tense from the future tense can significantly affect how corporations perceive future-oriented strategies, and so make corporate behavior less future-oriented. Overall, the authors introduce a new way to think about underlying variation in global CSR practices. As they show in this paper, it is crucial to examine language as an important underlying feature that shapes cultural values and the norms in a society. The study also builds on research into the ways in which perceptual category systems focus the attention, and subsequently, the behaviors, of corporate leaders. Read More

Decommoditizing the Canned Tomato

Most commodity producers look to cut costs aggressively. So why is Mutti S.p.a, an Italian producer of tomato products, paying farmers more than competitors? Mary Shelman discusses her case study. Closed for comment; 6 Comments posted.

How Grocery Bags Manipulate Your Mind

People who bring personal shopping bags to the grocery store to help the environment are more likely to buy organic items—but also to treat themselves to ice cream and cookies, according to new research by Uma R. Karmarkar and Bryan Bollinger. What's the Quinoa-Häagen-Dazs connection? Closed for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Private Sector, Public Good

What role, if any, does business have in creating social good? A new seminar series at Harvard Business School tackles this complex question. Open for comment; 12 Comments posted.

The Fantastic Horizon: How to Invest in a New City

Rapid urbanization and resource scarcity pose problems—and opportunities—for businesses and governments all over the world. Senior Lecturer John Macomber writes about his recent investigative visits to nascent privately-funded municipalities in Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Response to Readers: Combating Climate Change with Nuclear Power and Fracking

Following a contentious online debate, Professor Joe Lassiter expands his argument that nuclear power and fracking are the lesser evils when stacked up against coal power, and presents a way forward. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

The Case for Combating Climate Change with Nuclear Power and Fracking

Joseph B. Lassiter explains why he believes that nuclear power and shale gas are on the right side of the fight against climate change, and why markets have a better shot at winning the fight than governments do. Closed for comment; 18 Comments posted.

Historical Origins of Environmental Sustainability in the German Chemical Industry, 1950s-1980s

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. Read More

Teaching Climate Change to Skeptics

The Business and Environment Initiative at Harvard Business School aims to shift the debate about climate change from a political discussion to a practical conversation about risk and reward. Closed for comment; 36 Comments posted.

Corporate Leaders Need to Step Up on Climate Change

Despite perceptions that sustainable business efforts are progressing, the environment reminds us we're failing to deal with the problem sufficiently. Here's what business leaders must do next, according to Michael Toffel and Auden Schendler. Closed for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Earth Day: Recent Research on Sustainability

Earth Day helps us reflect on environmental issues that both sustain and threaten our planet. Harvard Business School researchers have approached these issues pragmatically, conducting numerous studies aimed at helping business leaders to understand how business affects the environment, and vice versa. Here is a sample of that work. Closed for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Pulling Campbell’s Out of the Soup

Campbell Soup had lost its way when Douglas Conant took charge in 2001. His first task: get out of his quiet zone and apply bold measures. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

How CEOs Sustain Higher-Ambition Goals

At a recent conference, executives underscored the importance of employee engagement, contributing to the community, and creating sustainable environment strategies. Closed for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Video: Harvard Business School at the Kumbh Mela

In this video report, Senior Lecturer John Macomber visits the Kumbh Mela in India to discover what such an undertaking can teach us about real estate, urbanization, sustainability, and infrastructure. Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Pay for Environmental Performance: The Effect of Incentive Provision on Carbon Emissions

Research has shown that reducing carbon emissions and exhibiting good environmental performance are important for corporations. But how exactly are these environmental goals carried out within organizations? In this paper, the authors analyze the incentive structures of climate change management for a sample of large, predominantly multinational organizations. The authors then characterize and assess the effectiveness of different types of incentive schemes that corporations have adopted to encourage employees to reduce carbon emissions. Results suggest that contrary to widespread belief in the effectiveness of monetary incentives, in fact the adoption of monetary incentives is associated with higher carbon emissions. By contrast, the use of nonmonetary incentives is associated with lower carbon emissions. Overall, the study suggests that socially positive tasks significantly impact the effectiveness of different types of incentives and should be considered in the design of accounting and control systems. Read More

Reinforcing Regulatory Regimes: How States, Civil Society, and Codes of Conduct Promote Adherence to Global Labor Standards

Multinational corporations are under increasing pressure to manage their global supply chains in ways that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. Many companies have responded to this pressure by asking their suppliers to adhere to codes of conduct governing labor conditions and environmental management. This paper examines the conditions under which tens of thousands of suppliers across many countries are more likely to adhere to the labor practices these codes of conduct call for. Findings indicate that suppliers are more likely to adhere to codes of conduct in countries that not only have made binding domestic and international legal commitments to protect workers' rights, but that also have high levels of press freedom and nongovernmental organization activity. Greater code of conduct adherence is also found among suppliers that serve buyers located in countries where child labor is a more salient issue. This research reveals the critical importance of maintaining multiple, overlapping, and reinforcing governance systems, and urges caution to those hoping that private regulatory regimes can substitute for effective government regulation. Overall, this paper points the way toward building more effective private regulatory regimes. Read More

LEED-ing by Example

When a local government decides to pursue environmentally aware construction policies for its own buildings, the private sector follows suit, according to new research by Timothy Simcoe and Michael W. Toffel. Closed for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Funding the Design of Livable Cities

As a burgeoning global population migrates to the world's urban centers, it's crucial to design livable cities that function with scarce natural resources. John Macomber discusses the critical connection between real estate financing and innovative design in the built environment. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

New Agenda for Corporate Accountability Reporting

Professor Karthik Ramanna explains three ways to make corporate accountability reports potentially more useful to constituencies that include shareholders, communities, bondholders, and customers. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Stop Talking About the Weather and Do Something: Three Ways to Finance Sustainable Cities

How do we ensure that our cities are resilient in the face of inevitable future weather events like Hurricane Sandy? John Macomber offers three ways that the private sector can take action. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Public Procurement and the Private Supply of Green Buildings

Government purchasing programs often have policy objectives that go beyond getting a good deal for the taxpayer. For example, governments may purchase products with enhanced environmental or safety features not only to reduce environmental impacts and safeguard employees, but also to promote broader adoption of similar products in the private market. Such policies have been deployed by governments across the United States and European Union, but little is known about how well they actually work. This paper examines the impact of environmentally friendly government procurement policies on private-sector adoption of the targeted products. The authors find that municipal government green building procurement policies that apply only to municipal buildings also accelerate the use of green building practices in the private sector, both in the cities with these policies as well as in neighboring cities. They also find that such government policies encourage private-sector investment in complementary services, which likely reduces green building costs to private developers. Read More

“Power from Sunshine”: A Business History of Solar Energy

In each generation, the concept of getting "power from sunshine" has attracted entrepreneurial visionaries who encountered a perennial problem: Solar energy was expensive compared to conventional fuels that were not priced to incorporate wider environmental costs. This paper by Geoffrey Jones and Loubna Bouamane provides a business history of solar energy between the nineteenth century and the present day. Its covers early attempts to develop solar energy, the use of passive solar in architecture before World War II, the subsequent growth of the modern photovoltaic (PV) industry, and alternative non-PV technologies such as parabolic collectors. As the authors argue, building viable business models proved crucially dependent on two factors: the prices of alternative conventional fuels and public policy. Read More

A Pragmatic Alternative for Creating a Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy

Many companies preach and practice corporate social responsibility, but their efforts often lack an overall strategy that dilutes their effectiveness. Professor "Kash" Rangan and colleagues offer a pragmatic solution. Closed for comment; 8 Comments posted.

HBS Cases: Who Controls Water?

In a recent field study seminar, Professor Forest L. Reinhardt discussed the case "Woolf Farming & Processing," which illustrates how access to water—a basic building block of agriculture—is affected by everything from complex government-mandated requirements to a 3-inch endangered bait fish. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Unplugged: What Happened to the Smart Grid?

Replacing the antiquated electrical system in the United States with a super-efficient smart grid always seemed a surefire opportunity for entrepreneurs. So what went wrong? asks Professor Rebecca M. Henderson. Open for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Where Green Corporate Ratings Fail

Many companies receiving high marks in environmental sustainability are hurting the planet in other ways, write professor Michael Toffel and executive Auden Schendler. Here's where green rankings fall short. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Carbon Tariffs: Impacts on Technology Choice, Regional Competitiveness, and Global Emissions

Under current emissions regulation such as the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the Northeast US, imports entering the region fall outside the regulatory regime and incur no carbon costs. As a result, imports can compete within the carbon-regulated region with a new-found advantage, potentially altering the competitive balance between emissions-regulated and -unregulated firms. While implementing carbon tariffs—border adjustments— may appear to be a straightforward solution to this asymmetry, the potential for such a measure to be interpreted as a trade barrier, and thereby initiate a reciprocal tariff, has thus far stymied debate on the issue. This paper explores the impact of such border adjustments on firms' technology choice, regional competitiveness, and global emissions. The analysis shows that border adjustments (or lack thereof) play a vital role in determining firms' technology and production choices, both of which are fundamental operations management decisions that ultimately determine economic and environmental performance. Results have implications for each of the primary stakeholders: regulators making the policy decision regarding border adjustments; firms interested in understanding their competitiveness and location strategies under a border adjustment; and technology producers interested in assessing the potential impact of border adjustments on demand for cleaner technologies. Read More

Engaging Supply Chains in Climate Change

Managing a company's risks and opportunities associated with climate change—including its physical and regulatory implications—requires focusing not only on internal operations, but also on supply chains, especially since greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in supply chains typically exceed those from a company's own operations. But this requires obtaining climate change information from suppliers, which some are reluctant to share. In this paper, Chonnikarn (Fern) Jira and Michael W. Toffel examine proprietary data from the Carbon Disclosure Project's Supply Chain Project, a collaboration of multinational corporations asking their key suppliers to share information about their GHG emissions and their vulnerabilities and opportunities associated with climate change. Jira and Toffel find evidence that a supplier is more likely to share this information when it faces several buyers requesting the information, when its buyers appear committed to actually using this information, and when the supplier is in a relatively competitive industry and is thus particularly vulnerable to being replaced by its rivals. These findings can help managers better predict which suppliers will be more willing to share climate change information, and which might require more incentives or pressure to share this information. Read More

The Impact of a Corporate Culture of Sustainability on Corporate Behavior and Performance

Robert G. Eccles, Ioannis Ioannou, and George Serafeim compared a matched sample of 180 companies, 90 of which they classify as High Sustainability firms and 90 as Low Sustainability firms, in order to examine issues of governance, culture, and performance. Findings for an 18-year period show that High Sustainability firms dramatically outperformed the Low Sustainability ones in terms of both stock market and accounting measures. However, the results suggest that this outperformance occurs only in the long term. Managers and investors who are hoping to gain a competitive advantage in the short term are unlikely to succeed by embedding sustainability in their organization's strategy. Overall, the authors argue that High Sustainability company policies reflect the underlying culture of the organization, where environmental and social performance, in addition to financial performance, are important, but these policies also forge a strong culture by making explicit the values and beliefs that underlie the mission of the organization. Read More

Market Interest in Nonfinancial Information

During the past two decades, there have been many ideas for improving business reporting of nonfinancial information such as on a company's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. Using data from Bloomberg, authors Robert G. Eccles, Michael P. Krzus, and George Serafeim provide insights into market interest in nonfinancial information at a level of granularity not available until now. They identify exactly what information is of greatest interest, contrasting both the global and U.S. market across the full spectrum of ESG information and for each component of ESG, as well as Carbon Disclosure Project metrics. They also show variation in interest across asset classes and firm types, and present preliminary explanations for these differences. Read More

Designing Cities for a Sustainable Future

The city of the past is likely not the city of the future—climate change is bringing an end to the traditional model. Harvard Business School faculty are thinking along with government leaders and business practitioners about how to create sustainable places to live and work. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Historical Trajectories and Corporate Competences in Wind Energy

Analyzing developments in the wind turbine business over more than a century, Geoffrey Jones and Loubna Bouamane argue that public policy has been a key variable in the spread of wind energy since the 1980s, but that public policy was more of a problem than a facilitator in the earlier history of the industry. Geography has mattered to some extent, also: Both in the United States and Denmark, the existence of rural areas not supplied by electricity provided the initial stimulus to entrepreneurs and innovators. Building firm-level capabilities has been essential in an industry which has been both technically difficult and vulnerable to policy shifts. Read More

What Environmental Ratings Miss

Environmental ratings of companies are based on "green" management efforts and the environmental performance of their operations. In this paper, Michael Toffel and Auden Schendler argue that these ratings neglect companies' actions that seek to influence environmental policy, which can have a much broader impact than their internal efforts. As a result, sustainability ratings risk seriously misleading consumers and investors, and can even enable "greenwashing" by allowing corporations to game the system, gaining high rankings for greening their operations despite advocating for less stringent environmental policy. Toffel and Schendler argue that environmental ratings should factor in political contributions, CEO advocacy work, and engagement with non-governmental organizations, among other actions. This would erode the environmental ratings of companies advocating weaker environmental policy, and bolster the ratings of those advocating more stringent environmental policy. Read More

Transforming Manufacturing Waste into Profit

Every manufacturing process leaves waste, but Assistant Professor Deishin Lee believes much of this left-behind material can be put to productive—and profitable—use. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

The Globalization of Corporate Environmental Disclosure: Accountability or Greenwashing?

Between 2005 and 2008, the world saw a dramatic increase in corporate environmental reporting. Yet this transition toward greater transparency and accountability has occurred unevenly across countries and industries. Findings by professors Christopher Marquis and Michael W. Toffel provide the first systematic evidence of how the global environmental movement affects corporations' environmental management practices. Firms' use of symbolic compliance strategies, for instance, is affected by specific corporate characteristics and by institutional context. This study contributes to a larger body of research on the effects of global social movements and environmental reporting. Read More

Corporate Social Responsibility and Access to Finance

Corporate social responsibility may benefit society, but does it benefit the corporation? Indeed it does, according to a new study that shows how CSR can make it easier for firms to secure financing for new projects. Research was conducted by George Serafeim and Beiting Cheng of Harvard Business School and Ioannis Ioannou of the London Business School. Read More

Twenty-first Century Skill: Trading Carbon Credits

As cap and trade becomes an increasingly popular mechanism for governments to cut corporate pollution, students at Harvard Business School use a simulation to learn how it works. An interview with professor Peter Coles. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Corporate Sustainability Reporting: It’s Effective

In a growing trend, countries have begun requiring companies to report their environmental, social, and governance performance. George Serafeim of HBS and Ioannis Ioannou of London Business School set out to find whether this reporting actually induces companies to improve their nonfinancial performance and contribute toward a sustainable society. Open for comment; 12 Comments posted.

The Consequences of Mandatory Corporate Sustainability Reporting

The number of firms reporting sustainability information has grown significantly in the past decade, both due to voluntary actions and to mandates from several national governments and stock exchange authorities. In this paper, London Business School's Ioannis Ioannou and Harvard Business School's George Serafeim investigate whether mandatory sustainability reporting has any effect on a company's tendency to engage in socially responsible management practices. Read More

HBS Faculty Comment on Environmental Issues for Earth Day

Harvard Business School faculty members offer their views on the many business facets of "going green." Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Will the Japan Disaster Remake the Landscape for Green Energy in Asia?

Entrepreneurs at the recent Asia Business Conference at Harvard Business School said the disaster in Japan could accelerate the move toward "green" energy sources in Asia, opening opportunities. Read More

Water, Electricity, and Transportation: Preparing for the Population Boom

By 2050, the world's cities will have to support 3 billion more inhabitants, mostly in developing countries, with crucial investments needed in three areas: water, energy, and transportation. Several of the planet's top city planning and environmental business experts gathered at Harvard Business School earlier this month to discuss available options. Closed for comment; 18 Comments posted.

Sustainable Cities: Oxymoron or the Shape of the Future?

Among the issues looming large in the twenty-first century is a rapid rise in the number of people living in cities and a rapidly growing awareness of our threat to the Earth's environment. In response to both, a number of major corporations and various government bodies have teamed up to explore the idea of "ecocities" —urban communities ideally designed around the idea of environmental sustainability. This paper explores the idea by looking at several ecocities in progress in China, Abu Dhabi, South Korea, Finland, and Portugal. Research by professors Robert G. Eccles and Amy C. Edmondson, doctoral candidate Tiona Zuzul, and HBS research assistant Annissa Alusi. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Cognitive Barriers to Environmental Action: Problems and Solutions

Researchers have long studied the cognitive barriers that cloud our thinking and decision-making. In a recent book chapter, HBS doctoral student Lisa L. Shu and professor Max H. Bazerman look at three barriers that can prevent clear decision-making, specifically on environmental issues. They also propose ways in which these biases could be put to advantage in promoting sound environmental policy and practice. Read More

The Landscape of Integrated Reporting: An E-Book

An e-book written by participants of a recent HBS workshop on integrated reporting is now available. HBS Dean Nitin Nohria offers a forward. Read More

HBS Workshop Encourages Corporate Reporting on Environmental and Social Sustainability

The concept of integrated reporting could help mend the lack of trust between business and the public, Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria tells attendees at a seminal workshop. Closed for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Venture Capital’s Disconnect with Clean Tech

Clean-tech start-ups depend on patience and public policy to thrive—the Internet models for VC funding don't apply. That's why Harvard Business School professor Joseph Lassiter is making an unusual recommendation to his entrepreneurship students: Spend a few years serving time in a government job. Closed for comment; 18 Comments posted.

How to Speed Up Energy Innovation

We know the grand challenge posed by shifting away from dirty energy sources. The good news, says Harvard Business School professor Rebecca Henderson, is that we have seen such change before in fields including agriculture and biotech, giving us a clearer pathway to what it will take. Read More

Renewable Energy: Winds at Our Back?

It certainly stirred up controversy in 2001 when an entrepreneur proposed erecting 130 wind turbines off the coast of Massachusetts' Cape Cod. After nine years of struggle over regulatory, environmental, safety, and social issues, the plan appears closer to becoming a reality. HBS professor Richard Vietor reflects on wind energy and innovations in the renewable energy industry. Read More

Environmental Federalism in the European Union and the United States

Under what circumstances will individual states take the lead in passing the most stringent environmental regulations, and when will the federal government take the lead? When a state takes a leadership role, will other states follow? HBS professor Michael Toffel and coauthors describe the development of environmental regulations in the U.S. and EU that address automobile emissions, packaging waste, and global climate change. They use these three topics to illustrate different patterns of environmental policymaking, describe the changing dynamics between state and centralized regulation in the United States and the EU. Read More

Accelerating Innovation In Energy: Insights from Multiple Sectors

How should the energy sector best respond to the threat of climate change? In this introductory chapter to a forthcoming book, Harvard Business School's Rebecca M. Henderson and Richard G. Newell of Duke University frame the discussion by highlighting the volume's contributions concerning four particularly innovative sectors of the U.S. economy: agriculture, chemicals, life sciences, and information technology. These four sectors have been extraordinarily important in driving recent economic growth. Henderson and Newell describe why accelerating innovation in energy could play an important role in shaping an effective response to climate change. Read More

Is a Stringent Climate Change Agreement a Pot of Gold?

Reading this month's comments, HBS professor Jim Heskett wonders if we even need a climate change agreement as a catalyst to foster innovation and the VC investment required to support it. (Online forum has closed; next forum opens February 4.) Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Business Summit: The Coming World Oil Crisis

Without enormous changes the world faces an imminent oil crisis—and there are no silver bullet solutions. People must wake up to the sobering ramifications of peak oil, which may be the defining issue of this century. Read More

Business Summit: Business and the Environment

If the causes for global climate change are not addressed, the consequences for the planet are likely to be disastrous. Governments, business, and consumers must act. Read More

Business Summit: The Evolution of Agribusiness

Agribusiness has come to be seen not just as economically important, but as a critical part of society. The future for this massive industry will be both exciting and complex. Read More

The Energy Politics of Russia vs. Ukraine

A recent Harvard Business School case looks at Russia's decision in 2006 to cut off supply of natural gas to Ukraine's energy company—a move repeated this year. Is Russia just an energy bully? Students of professor Rawi Abdelal learn there is nothing black and white when it comes to Russia's energy politics. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

Economics of the Ethanol Business

What happens when a group of Missouri corn farmers gets into the energy business? What appears to be a very lucrative decision quickly turns out to be much more risky. Professor Forest Reinhardt leads a case discussion on what the protagonists should do next. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

Responding to Public and Private Politics: Corporate Disclosure of Climate Change Strategies

Social activists are increasingly attempting to directly influence corporation behavior, using tactics such as shareholder resolutions and product boycotts to encourage companies to improve their environmental performance, increase their transparency about operations and governance, and more stringently monitor their suppliers' labor practices. This paper examines how companies are responding to these pressures, in the context of requests for greater transparency about the risks climate change poses to their business—and the strategies these companies have developed to address these risks. This paper reveals that a company is more likely to comply with social activists' requests for greater transparency about climate change when the company itself, or other companies in its industry, has been targeted by formal shareholder resolutions on environmental topics—and when the company is facing potential regulations restricting greenhouse gas emissions. These findings demonstrate that changes in corporate practices may be sparked by both social activists and by the mere threat of government regulations, and that challenges mounted against a specific firm may inspire broader changes within its industry. Read More

How Sustainable Is Sustainability in a For-Profit Organization?

Online forum now closed. For managers, sustainability can mean the integration and intersection of social, environmental, and economic responsibilities. The concept is admirable, says Jim Heskett, but does it also confuse managers entrusted with the bottom line? How should they make trade-offs? Jim sums up reader responses. Closed for comment; 77 Comments posted.