Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Research Paper

Pages: 18 (5925 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Transportation - Environmental Issues

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The concept of feudalism, for instance, segmented the workers (serfs) from the managers (lords) and kept a fairly stable balance in rural areas during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. However, the industrial revolution of the 17th to 19th centuries changed the conception of sustainability by tapping into fossile fuels, increasing urbanization and segementation of labor, causing an unbalanced agricultural system in which food was not always available for the burgeoning city populations. Similarly, coal was used to power ever evoling engines and later to generate electricity. Society was protected from endemic disease through more technological advances in sanitation. The combination of conditions caused an unprecedented human population explosion and even greater urbanization. This also led to huge industrial, technological and scientific changes that continues to the present. For instance, from 1750 to 1850 the global population doubled from a relatively sustainable 500 million to over 1 billion people (Goudie, 2005) Concerns about the environmental and social impacts of industry were expressed by some Enlightenment political economists and through the Romantic movement of the 1800s. Overpopulation is not a new theory and a famous essay by Thomas Malthus correctly predicted that eventually humans would populate to such an extent that food, living space, and living standards would decline to the point where much of the population would expire. Ironically, Malthus is often quoted today (Daly and Farley, 2004).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Research Paper on Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Assignment

By the late 19th and early 20th century, the industrial revolution had led to an exponential increase in the human conception of resources. The increase in the health and wealth of whole societies was seen as progress, although a number of economists began developing models that called sustainability into question. Ecology had now gained a more academic level and was seen as a viable science. These included: the interconnectedness of all living systems in a single living planetary system, the biosphere; the importance of natural cycles (of water, nutrients and other chemicals, materials, waste); and the passage of energy through trophic levels of living systems (Worster, 1994).

The next several decades brought us into yet another period of escalating growth, what some call "a great acceleration ... A surge in the human enterprise that has emphatically stamped humanity as a global geophysical force" (Robin, 2008). Alarms began ringing -- The Limits to Growth, The Club of Rome, and the realization that environmental problems were now global in scale. For example, one of the first major "paradigm shifts" occurred in 1973 and 1979 with the global energy crisis based on an overdependence on oil. A political and cultural schism developed; the richer, developed countries now wanted to regulate growth and environmental issues while the developing world, largely due to population dissatisfaction, needed to rapidly modernize, at whatever environmental cost (Turner, 2008).

What followed is another exponential growth pattern of human consumption, unchecked birth rates in most of the developing world, a scarcity of water and food in many areas of the world. While there is an increasing push towards recycling, protecting the environment, and going free within the modern business, situations like the Copenhagen Conference illustrate just how contentious the issue of sustainability has become. For much of the world, though, ecological economics now seeks to close the gap between ecology and more traditional economics. This, however, requires societies in all parts of the world to commit to recycling, lessening of their carbon footprints and, at the very least, more attention and investment in green energy and building processes (Kay, 2002).

Literature Review - Looking at the macro (global) first, we know that Sustainable development is considered to be a paradigm that allows human needs to be met for the present and future while still preserving the environment. The key is that all aspects of human culture remember that the responsibility of the present generation is to provide a world in which there are resources for the future. Sustainable development also implies the capacity for stewardship of natural systems, and more of equilibrium to growth. Essentially, this is broken into three parts: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, and socio-political sustainability. For instance, using up all the water resources in a given area neither plans for the future nor helps the present. Instead, a sustainable template would develop resources appropriately and teach the populations to conserve or utilize the available resource base for adjusted needs.

Modern societies, therefore, need to manage economic, social and natural capital in order to survive, thus:

Consumption of Renewable Resources

State of the Environment

Sustainability

More than Nature's ability to replenish

Environmental Degradation

Not Sustainable

Equal to Nature's ability to replenish

Environmental Equilibrium

Steady State Economy

Less than Nature's ability to replenish

Environmental Renewal

Environmentally Sustainable

(Hart, 2007)

One of the practical aspects of modern sustainability, Green Building is also known as green construction or sustainable building. To build ecologically sound, however, we need to have a change of ideological and practical view. Technologically, a modern building is so complex that the old idea of improving efficiencies at the bottom line is not even a viable way to succeed. Instead, continued reinvention of both the company's product line and industry capabilities is not only necessary, but will help decide which companies succeed and which fail. Too, because the half-life of technology is so short, radical and category breaking innovation is needed not just to compete, but to provide the global environment with positive growth. To do this, though, managers and corporate executives alike need to allow dissent, innovation, and a push from the ground up, the sides, and yes, even the top, to realize such a needed change. With the worries about job loss, anger, attacks, problems, etc., why bother with dissent and innovation. It is simple -- the most important way an organization can ensure that it will grow and prosper, and be around for its employees and stakeholders, is to encourage dissent and innovation through its managers. However, the organization, if committed, can create a cultural renaissance that will absolutely transform the company -- and allow it several years of new, innovative, product life. Keep in mind that organizations, but their very nature, really do want to embrace and support innovative projects -- that is the entire basis for entrepeneurialship. However, ingrained processes often take organizations into different directions -- all of which involve a fear of risk -- a fear of losing what ground is already covered. However challenging this might be, most of the great people who have made the difficult and controversial decisions have had to face adversity to do so. One example was Winston Churchill, who was under intense pressure to surrender to Hitler and end the suffering of England. Instead, he said absolutely not -- and the rest is history. This is also the difference between a leader and a manger -- a leader is able to take the strategic or long-term view of a situation and work through the adverse conditions in. There is real power in being able to look outside the black and white into the world of the grey -- but it changes one's perspective of everything. Once one goes down that road, there is no turning back (Horibe, 2001).

It is challenging, for certain, to change the culture of a company; but it is also challenging to enhance sustainability and to create an environmentally responsible company. We find that companies are wanting to "go green," based on a number of factors: Ethical (environmental goals and pressures); Pressure from Stakeholders; Increase in Governmental Regulations, their own internal organizational crisis, and the economic opportunities (or deincentives to not go green). Culture changes, and with it the most innovative companies change, too. Part of the cultural change over the past two decades has been the consistent and regular attitude towards ecology, carbon footprint, and sustainability. Many companies see that they have, or do, produce materials that are negative to either the people, the environment, or both. They see that changing this paradigm will not only be a good ethical and moral decision, but will likely encourage like-minded consumers to be loyal to them. The negative ecological effects of business and industry are well documented; this is no longer a theory, but a reality. Organizations that pay attention to the environment are the types of organizations that will grow and prosper in the 21st century. Of course, there are those in the developing world who are also concerned about the environment, but the rapid growth of globalism sometimes acts at cross purposes. The idea of a green business is not simply changing a few power sources or suppliers -- it is a complete paradigm that asks for an all-encompassing plan and commitment in every aspect of the business, and from every employee, vendor, supplier, and likely even customer. This, of course, is an ideal, and it may take years or even decades to reach that ideal. This author's point, though, is to move towards this in incremental steps but with a broad, overall vision that includes sustainability as its final goal (Townsend,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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