Sustainable Automobility

Sustainable Automobility

Understanding the Car as a Natural System

Paul Nieuwenhuis

If we are part of nature, then so is everything we make. This unique book explores this notion using the example of the car, how it is made and used and especially how we relate to it, with a view to creating a more sustainable automobility.

Chapter 14: Making the transition; ecodiversity at the sector level; industry as ecosystem

Paul Nieuwenhuis

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, management and sustainability, environment, corporate social responsibility, ecological economics


In the last chapter we saw how the concept of ecological diversity can be adapted to individual firms and can be shown to be of benefit to them in providing enhanced levels of resilience in the face of a changing operating environment. In this chapter I attempt to move up the hierarchy and extend the analysis to the sector level, in this case, of course, the automotive sector, and I will show how this concept can help in understanding a possible transition process from the current Ford-Budd mass production system to a more diverse and potentially more sustainable system. To summarize the previous chapter, ecosystems derive resilience - an ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions - from the presence of apparently redundant species and subsystems. When external circumstances change - for example, climate change - the dominant species and subsystems may become unviable; however, some of these secondary species now come into their own, allowing the system as a whole to survive, albeit in a different form. The ability for the system to adapt and survive is its resilience. Perrings (1998: 511) expressed the view that resilience '. . . is concerned with something that is common to any stochastic evolutionary system . . .'. Perrings also believes that applying these principles to systems in the economy therefore makes sense. The automotive industry is dominated by large, centralized, mass producers serving global markets.

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