Green Business Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1782 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Business

Green Business: The Only Hope for Sustainable Future

It is a well-known fact that industrialization and capital accumulation in the last three hundred years have fundamentally endangered our planet. In a drive to efficiency in production and distribution, great minds of the last several centuries built up a global capitalist economy that has allowed businesses to grow at the expense of native peoples around the world, workers -- not to mention the environment. Unchecked capitalism has led to pollution, environmental degradation, and global inequality. More problematic is the way peoples' cultures have been shaped by the logic of capitalist efficiency and many people see more production, more consumption, and attempts to outsmart the nature with technological advancement as positive values. In a process where "consumption boost" is viewed as a precursor to "market growth," many people have completely forgotten about long-term sustainability (Norberg, 2005, p. 149).

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Identifying the problem of modern capitalism, however, is not enough to solve this problem. Better ask: what to do about it? Many people call for the abolition of capitalism but that is hardly a solution. The socialist alternatives offered by the Soviet Union and other members of the Communist bloc have not proved to be more efficient in terms of guaranteeing social justice and building a clean environment. More importantly, capitalism is here to say because people believe in it. The best hope for better future therefore is to reform capitalism by encouraging businesses to go green. In other words, green business should be the future. Businesses should be encouraged to embrace the idea while the principles of green business should be incorporated into college curriculums.

Term Paper on Green Business Assignment

Green business is defined as the "one that is based on selling green products and services or one that adopts green practices and procedures in more traditional undertakings" where both practices and procedures "help the world and the budget" (Young, 2010, p. 53). Green business concept suggests that it is possible to prosper economically and be environmentally-friendly at the same time. It does not disavow capitalism but acknowledges that the problems we face today -- pollution, global warming, destruction of forests, etc. -- stem from "uneconomically wasteful use of human and natural resources" (Hawken, Lovins, & Lovins, 1999, p. 10). The purpose of green business is to build a sustainable future where natural resources are not simply valued in market terms and for short-terms goals but as limited resources which function best when used in accordance with the natural environmental processes.

Implementing green revolution is not an easy task. Many businesses still operate within the old principle of earning the most with the least use of resources, with little disregard for the environment unless their actions are effectively curtailed by law. The development of green business requires that business people and ordinary folks change their attitudes toward business, consumption, and nature. Corporate social responsibility should be incorporated into the corporate structure. Indeed, many in the fields of business and economics realize that the nineteenth-century legal understanding of the corporation is problematic today. If corporate governance in the past dealt with fiduciary responsibilities and the protection of shareholder rights, today it should encompass "how corporate decisions affect both employees and the larger community," including the environment (Spackman, et al., 2010, p. 136). Meanwhile, green business should find "a balance between meeting the strategic goals of the company (serving stakeholders, making a profit, etc.) and respecting and understanding the social and environmental impact of the company's actions" (ibid).

The challenge is how to change the attitudes of business people. Gary Hirshberg, the CEO of Stonyfield, an organic yogurt producer, says that there is an answer to this. He argues that "nature and business are born allies -- potentially the richest partnership in the history of capitalism" (Hirshberg, 2008). Hirshberg argues that the key to this alliance is sustainability. Businesses should emulate the nature's model which allows interdependent processes of our planet nourish themselves. By adopting this model, he says, businesses can earn more and help the humanity, without endangering the environment. Hirshberg describes the current models in agribusiness inefficient. The scientific meddling in the natural trade-off in agricultural processes require greater use of chemical fertilizers and fossil fuel, forcing fishermen, oystermen, scallopers, taxpayers, lumberjacks, and "in the long run all of us, especially our children, pay a terrible toll for this unnatural approach to 'efficiency'" (Hirshberg, 2008). Hirshberg does not speak in theory only; he backs up his arguments with real examples. He and his company adopted a green business model, helping their customers, suppliers, the environment, and the company itself. While the yogurt industry has grown by five to seven percent per year in the last eighteen years, Stonyfield grew by twenty seven percent annually (ibid).

Many companies and governments around the world are adopting the principles of green business. Johnson & Suskewicz (2009) argue that embracing the idea does not mean simply using new technologies, but focusing on four major components: a technological system that enables green business, a new business model that is innovative and customized, a fitting market-adoption strategy, and a favorable government policy. They specifically note that government policies should be directed at not just technology but also business models. There are actually examples where such a multi-layered policies are being adopted. The government of Abu Dhabi built a city called Masdar which runs entirely on clean technologies. And in Israel, Shai Agassi company launched an electric-automobile network called the Better Place. The purpose of both projects is to decrease dependence on oil. The policy initiative at Better Place, for example, is to incorporate the multi-layered model proposed by Johnson and Suskewicz (see appendix 1). The Better Place uses a new technology, an innovative business model, found a favorable market niche, and sought the support of the government officials who endorsed the idea. President Shimon Peres introduced a policy initiative with regard to car imports. In the past all cars were subject to fifty percent tax, but now the "tax on gas-powered cars would rise to 72%, while electric vehicles would be charged only 10%" (Johnson & Suskewicz, 2009, p. 58).

While these innovative business approaches are appealing, convincing the majority in the business world about the efficacy and profitability of green business will take a long time. Then there is a problem of "greenwashing" -- attempts by companies to make their products "green" although they do not meet the criteria for being advertised as such. For instance, ConAgra, a food producing company, labeled its cooking oil made with genetically modified ingredients "natural" for which the company is facing class-action lawsuit. In fact, TerraChoice Group, an Ottawa-based environmental marketing agency, reports in its 2010 Greenwashing Report that ninety five percent of consumer goods claiming to be green practice some form of greenwashing, including the use of vague claims, not providing evidence, and lying (Villano, 2011, p. 53). The focus should therefore be on building a green future by educating everyone -- including business managers (Marcus & Fremeth, 2009), even prison inmates (Morgan, 2011), but more importantly the students.

There are many models that are being developed to teach students the values of sustainability, integrating green concepts into business curriculum, and by offering stand-alone and individual courses (Heuer, 2010). But there seems to be a disconnect between the views of students and what is being delivered to them in classrooms. This conclusion was confirmed by a survey an MBA student helped the author conduct with twenty MBA students at Kelley School of Business -- Indiana University. Students were surveyed on three questions and asked for general recommendations on how to implement green business models (see appendix 2). Sixteen students said green business concepts should be incorporated into business curriculum. But only three said that the green ideas were being taught at schools. Thirteen students said they believed social and environmental responsibility would yield greater profits in the long run. In the general feedback section, students criticized business educators for not doing more in terms of teaching green and sustainability issues. Some suggested that the government should support local farmers, while others placed more emphasis on green technology. One student recommended the article by Johnson and Suskewicz (2009). Two students described the green business approach as a failure.

It is clear from the survey results and the academic literature that the green revolution is taking place very slowly because old ideas about the efficacy of "efficient" business management that focuses on profit and measures everything -- from machinery to human labor to natural resources -- in market value are still predominant in the minds of entrepreneurs and business executives. There is, however, greater enthusiasm among students and the hope is that the next generation of entrepreneurs and business executives will be keener to embrace green business concepts and incorporate them into their daily business activities. Embracing green business in a systematic manner will not take place overnight. But the supporters of green business should persevere since it is the only hope for sustainable future. The capitalist model… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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