Sustainable Development Drivers

Sustainable Development Drivers

The Role of Leadership in Government, Business and NGO Performance

Edited by Kees Zoeteman

Sustainable development cannot be prescribed – rather, it results from conscious personal choices in government, business and NGOs. This thought-provoking book explores both the origins and future of the global sustainable development movement, and provides an original overview of the driving forces of sustainable development, including market forces and past and future trends.

Chapter 9: Understanding Differences in Business Sectors

Kees Zoeteman

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, development studies, development studies, economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics


Kees Zoeteman SUMMARY Besides the choices made by top management of corporations, also differences in external pressures drive sustainable development in corporations. This chapter summarizes empirical research results of a study at Tilburg University covering some ten industrial sectors and 250 corporations over the period 2000–11, showing how differences in external pressures are reflected in the dominant sustainability attitudes detected in corporations. Possible explanations for major sustainability attitude differences between sectors and within sectors include exposure to consumer preferences, size, age, attitude of the home country, direct stakes in producing countries, and so forth. The study found a steady upward trend to higher sustainability attitudes in all sectors. Higher attitude levels are correlated with, for example, corporation size and high home country attitude scores. The chapter also discusses the impact of sustainability attitude on corporate environmental performance, financial performance and resiliency during crisis. INTRODUCTION Business sectors are influenced by external social pressures to include aspects of sustainability in their operations. Such social pressures are felt by the management of production sites or headquarters. These managers are most exposed to views of other groups through, for example, the media. Particularly after calamities (such as the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010), CEOs have to jump into the pressure cooker of the media and within a few days must meet public expectations with corporate performance. Often unprepared, CEOs pay the price by being damaged or even having to resign, as did BP’s Tony Hayward in the case...

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