Creating Ecological Value
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Creating Ecological Value

An Evolutionary Approach to Business Strategies and the Natural Environment

Frank Boons

Firms adopt a wide variety of ecological strategies, ranging from the development of innovative products with reduced environmental impact to lobbying against governmental attempts to set standards for the way in which firms deal with the natural environment. This book explores this variety and is the first to provide a coherent evolutionary approach to the ecological strategies of firms.
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Chapter 2: Definitions of Ecological Value: Patches of History

Frank Boons


Most of the literature dealing with ecological strategies of firms takes as a starting point the late 1960s when the ‘modern environmental movement’ originated. But as the example of smoke abatement in Chicago in Chapter 1 shows, the ecological impact of industrial activities already was a much debated and acted upon topic in the second half of the nineteenth century. During this period, commonly known as the Second Industrial Revolution, monumental changes took place. Innovations such as electricity and the first chemical products reshaped society. Scientific knowledge, most notably chemical engineering, was more systematically applied to industrial production. Railroads were built that effectively enlarged the markets that a firm could serve. Perhaps most important from an ecological perspective this period marked a shift towards a carbon-based economy, as coal and later oil became major inputs as energy sources as well as raw materials for newly developed products.1 Another major innovation was not technical but organizational. Before 1850 production was predominantly organized in craft shops where craftsmen produced complete products singlehandedly, or through the putting out system in which home workers would produce products with raw materials provided by merchants who also sold the finished products. In the latter part of the nineteenth century businessmen2 increasingly brought workers together in factories in order to make use of larger technical equipment. This required the management of a concentrated workforce and as a result new organizational structures emerged which eventually resulted in the shape of the modern firm. This development is of considerable...

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