Historical Origins of Environment Sustainability in the German Chemical Industry, 1950s-1980s
Geoffrey Gareth Jones
Harvard University - General Management Unit
German Historical Institute Washington DC
August 26, 2013
Harvard Business School General Management Unit Working Paper No. 14-018
This working paper examines the growth of corporate environmentalism in the West German chemical industry between the 1950s and the 1980s. It focuses on two companies, Bayer and Henkel and traces the evolution of their environmental strategies in response to growing evidence of pollution and resulting political pressures. Although German business has been regarded as pioneering corporate environmentalism, this study reveals major commonalities between the German and American chemical industries until the 1970s, when the two German firms diverged from their American counterparts in using public relations strategies not only to contain fallout from criticism, but also as opportunities for changes in corporate culture. The working paper finds no evidence for variety of capitalism explanations why German firms should have been early in their sustainability strategies, partly because of the importance of regional as opposed to national influences, but the study is supportive of organizational sociology theories which have identified the importance of visibility in corporate green strategies.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 48
Keywords: environmental strategies, corporate responsibility, sustainability, chemical industry, detergents, Germanyworking papers series
Date posted: August 30, 2013
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