Building corporate resilience : based on a case study of Spier Holding's search for a lower carbon future

Pahwa-Gajjar, Sumetee (2012-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A study of the sustainability journey of Spier Holdings, a well known wine and leisure business in South Africa, offers a unique opportunity for interrogating corporate drivers for a lower carbon future. The business has established sustainability as a brand identity, declared carbon neutrality as a macro organisational goal in response to the global challenge of climate change, and sought scientifically and technologically appropriate ways of addressing this challenge. A preliminary analysis revealed various initiatives that are in place for measuring and reducing the business’ environmental impact, including carbon emissions. However, an in-depth study of the establishment’s environmental performance over two decades showed inconsistencies in year-on-year reporting, delays in shifting the supply chain, and gaps in implementation, particularly in the area of energy efficiency and adoption of renewable energy technology. Understanding and interrogating the business’ sustainability journey through a systems ecology and corporate citizenship framework proved inadequate. The case highlights that organizational goals for environmental performance areas, including the aim of carbon neutrality, and sustainability reporting are not sufficient catalysts for change. A complexity-based resilience approach allowed the business to be understood as an adaptive system. The sustainability story tracks different phases of a modified adaptive renewal cycle, which also determine the dominant management paradigms, strategic responses and forms of collaboration during each phase. Spier’s sustainability journey was found to be underpinned by a quest for corporate resilience which includes the resilience of the business (enterprise resilience) and of the social-ecological system within which it resides (SES resilience). The business responded to interdependent risks and uncertainties in its internal and external contexts, through investment strategies in key areas of corporate environmental performance. As a contribution to new knowledge, this thesis proposes an integrated corporate resilience framework for building enterprise resilience and ecological sustainability. This framework, and the accompanying mapping tool, reveals deep, ecological drivers for Spier’s environmental performance across corporate areas of lower carbon emissions, water sustainability, wastewater treatment, solid waste recycling and ecological custodianship. The framework is recommended for use by similar businesses, eager to configure their relationship with natural resources and ecosystem services, and by scholars, for investigating corporate performance towards environmental sustainability.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: ʼn Studie van die volhoubaarheidsonderneming van Spier Holdings, ʼn bekende wyn- en ontspanningsaak in Suid-Afrika, bied ʼn unieke geleentheid vir die ondersoek van korporatiewe aandrywers vir ʼn laer koolstoftoekoms. Die onderneming het volhoubaarheid as ʼn handelsmerkidentiteit gevestig, koolstof-neutraliteit as ʼn makro- organisatoriese doel verklaar in reaksie op die wêreldwye uitdaging van klimaatsverandering, en het wetenskaplik en tegnologies gepaste wyses gesoek om hierdie uitdaging die hoof te bied. ʼn Voorlopige analise het verskeie inisiatiewe wat gereed is vir meting en vermindering van die onderneming se omgewingsimpak aan die lig gebring, met inbegrip van koolstofvrystellings. ʼn Dieptestudie van die instelling se omgewingsprestasie oor twee dekades heen het egter inkonsekwenthede in jaar-tot-jaar-verslagdoening, vertragings in die verandering van die aanvoerketting, en gapings in implementering, in die besonder op die gebied van energiedoeltreffendheid en die ingebruikneming van hernubare energietegnologie getoon. Begrip en ondersoek van die onderneming se volhoubaarheidsonderneming aan die hand van ʼn raamwerk vir sisteemekologie en korporatiewe burgerskap het onvoldoende blyk te wees. Die geval beklemtoon dat organisatoriese doelstellings vir omgewingsprestasiegebiede, met inbegrip van die oogmerk van koolstofneutraliteit, en volhoubaarheidsverslagdoening nie voldoende katalisators vir verandering is nie. ʼn Kompleksiteitgebaseerde veerkragtigheidsbenadering het dit moontlik gemaak dat die onderneming as ʼn aanpassingstelsel beskou kan word. Die volhoubaarheidsverslag gaan verskillende fases van ʼn gewysigde aanpassings- hernuwingsiklus, wat ook die dominante bestuursparadigmas, strategiese reaksies en vorme van samewerking gedurende elke fase bepaal, na. Daar is bevind dat Spier se volhoubaarheidsonderneming onderstut word deur ʼn soeke na korporatiewe veerkragtigheid wat die veerkragtigheid van die onderneming (ondernemingsveerkragtigheid) en van die sosiaal-ekologiese stelsel waarbinne dit gesetel is (SES-veerkragtigheid) insluit. Die onderneming het op onderling afhanklike risiko’s en onsekerhede in sy interne en eksterne samehange gereageer deur beleggingstrategieë in sleutelgebiede van korporatiewe omgewingsprestasie. As ʼn bydrae tot nuwe kennis, doen hierdie tesis ʼn geïntegreerde korporatiewe veerkragtigheidsraamwerk vir die opbou van ondernemingsveerkragtigheid en ekologiese volhoubaarheid aan die hand. Hierdie raamwerk, en die gepaardgaande beskrywingsinstrument, lê diep, ekologiese aandrywers vir Spier se omgewingsprestasie oor korporatiewe gebiede van laer koolstof-vrystellings, watervolhoubaarheid, die behandeling van afloopwater, herbenutting van vaste afval en ekologiese bewaring bloot. Die raamwerk word aanbeveel vir gebruik deur soortgelyke ondernemings wat graag aan hulle verhouding met natuurlike hulpbronne en ekostelseldienste vorm wil gee, en deur vakkundiges vir die ondersoek van korporatiewe prestasie met betrekking tot omgewings-volhoubaarheid.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/71843
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