Why do companies go green? A qualitative study of the motivations and contextual factors inducing sustainable responses

Von Witt, Simon (2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: ‘Going green’ draws its origins from the ‘green’ in politics, which was first used as a party name by the German Greens (Die Grünen) in the late 1970s, which, although not the first green party, through media hype triggered the conception of a green movement in the early 1980s. This was voiced through green parties across the globe. Green is now seen as a buzzword and is often used as shorthand for discussing sustainability. It has since gained support leading to the gathering of more than 100 heads of state at the Earth Summit, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 and provided the necessary platform to launch a global campaign. It initially began in developed nations, in particular European countries, but has since spread to developing countries, despite receiving abundant opposition both from developed and developing nations, due to its impact on the oil and coal sectors. The purpose of this research is to determine the core motivation behind companies going green. The researcher does this through a qualitative study of the motivations and contextual factors that induce ecological responsiveness ranging from day to day business practices to the ecological design of their offices. The researcher tests the hypothesis, namely climate change mitigation, which is developed through the literature study and adopted to evaluate the four case studies selected. The researcher builds up his argument in chapters 3 to 5, which draw on the literature studied and first discuss Government’s response to climate change, then the interventions in place to address climate change and finally look at the four case studies. Climate change and its relevance to companies is the key motivation behind deciding on this topic and it is discussed throughout the thesis. Companies interviewed in this thesis expressed concern about it, although it was not always the primary motivation. Some had already introduced measures to address it and were continually looking at new ways of mitigating it. Similarly, the companies interviewed and others analysed were all concerned about introducing cost saving measures, which had the added advantage of being of benefit to the environment. Genuine reasons for mitigating climate change and concern over the future of the planet put forward by certain companies, while protecting profit margins were given by others. All served to achieve one goal to protect the environment through the sustainable use of natural resources and ultimately to enhance companies’ public images as being green companies. This study is divided into a literature review and case studies, where literature pertaining to climate change, renewable energy, sustainable building, corporate governance, green jobs and others was sourced from government gazettes, newspapers, academic studies, books, documentaries, journals, magazines and internet sources. These serve to develop and support the case studies, which take the form of interviews done with owners and workers from the selected companies.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Om groen te wees is ‘n uitdrukking wat van die politiek afkomstig is. Die naam is eers deur die Duitse Groenparty (Die Grünen) in die laat sewentiger jaar gebruik en alhoewel dit nie eintlik die eerste groenparty was, het dit deur middel van die media gelei tot die totstandkoming van die groenbeweging in die vroeer tagtige jare. Die naam “groen” is deur groenpartye wêreldwyd gebruik en ‘groen’ word deesdae as ‘n bynaam gebruik as ‘n mens van verdedigbaarheid praat. In 1992 te Rio de Janeiro, Brazil het die groenbeweging sterk steun gevind toe meer as 100 staatshoofde by die ‘Earth Summit’ bymekaar vergader het. Oorspronklik het die groenbeweging in die ontwikkelde nasies, veral Europese nasies, begin maar het daarna tot die ontwikkelende nasies uitgebrei. Maar daar was heelwat teenstand van beide ontwikkelde en ontwikkelende nasies, weens die ekonomiese uitwerking op die olie en steenkool industriëe. Die doel van hierdie navorsing is om te bepaal watter motiverende faktore maatskappye inagneem as hulle “groen” gaan. Die skrywer versoek om vas te stel deur middel van ‘n kwalitatiewe studie van die motiverende en samehangende faktore wat ekologiese antwoordendheid teweegbring. Hierdie faktore beweeg van daaglikse besigheidspraktyke tot die ekologiese beplanning van die kantore. Die skrywer gebruik die versagting van klimaatverandering as ‘n toets, wat deur die literatuurstudie ontwikkel is en wat verwys word as die sleutelmotivering wat tot groening lei, en wat gebruik word om die vier uitgesoekte studies te beoordeel. Elkeen van die studies word volgens hierdie kriteria bepaal. Die skrywer pas hierdie kriteria ook op voorbeelde wat gebruik word om die vier uitgesoekte studies te steun. Die skrywer bou in hoofstukke 3 tot 4 sy argument op. Daar word die regering se reaksie tot klimaatverandering en groot besigheid se antwoord op regeringsbeleid uiteengesit. Ons sien ook die bemiddelinge wat in staat gestel is om klimaatverandering teen te staan; daarna word die agtergrond oor die logiese gronde vir die verkiesing van die vier gevallestudies bespreek, en laastens word die eintlike gevallestudies behandel. Klimaatverandering en die relevantheid daarvan is die sleutelmotivering vir die keuse van hierdie onderwerp en dit word deurgaans in die proefskrif bespreek. Dit is die een gemeenskaplike faktor waaroor die vier ondervraagde maatskappye getoets is; hulle het reeds stappe geneem om dit teen te staan en soek aanhoudend om die uitwerking van klimaatverandering te versag. ‘n Oorsig van die algemene literatuur en sakestudies, die literatuur wat spesifiek op klimaatverandering van toepassing is, hernieubare energie, verduurbare geboue, maatskaplike beheer, ‘groen’ werk en klimaatverandering te versag. Inligting afkomstig van staatskoerante, koerante, akademiese studies, boeke, dokumentere studies, joernale, tydskrifte en internet bronne. Altesame het hierdie bronne bygedra tot die ontwikkeling en steun van die gevallestudies, wat hoofsaaklik die vorm van onderhoude met werkgewers en werknemers van uitgesoekde maatskappye gevat het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6859
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