Corporate Sustainability Management and Environmental Ethics

43 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2017

See all articles by Douglas Schuler

Douglas Schuler

Rice University - Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business

Andreas Rasche

Copenhagen Business School

Dror Etzion

McGill University

Lisa Newton

Fairfield University

Date Written: April 12, 2017


This article reviews four key orientations in environmental ethics that range from an instrumental understanding of sustainability to one that acknowledges the intrinsic value of sustainable behavior (i.e., sustainable resource use, conservation and preservation, rights-based perspectives, and deep ecology). It then shows that the current scholarly discourse around corporate sustainability management — as reflected in environment management (EM), corporate social responsibility (CSR), and corporate political activity (CPA) — mostly favors an instrumental perspective on sustainability. Sustainable business practices are viewed as anthropocentric and are conceptualized as a means to achieve competitive advantage. Based on these observations, we speculate about what corporate sustainability management might look like if it applied ethical orientations that emphasize the intrinsic value of nature. This discussion also includes an introduction to two articles in this special section focused on the role of the environmental manager and sustainability standards, both of which offer paths for incorporating intrinsic valuation of the environment into sustainability management.

Keywords: sustainability, corporate sustainability, ethics, environmental ethics

JEL Classification: M14, M16

Suggested Citation

Schuler, Douglas and Rasche, Andreas and Etzion, Dror and Newton, Lisa, Corporate Sustainability Management and Environmental Ethics (April 12, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Douglas Schuler

Rice University - Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business ( email )

6100 South Main Street
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

Andreas Rasche (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000

Dror Etzion

McGill University ( email )

1001 Sherbrooke St. W
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5

Lisa Newton

Fairfield University ( email )

Dolan School of Business
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
United States

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