Sample Management Essays on Sustainable Business Practices

Sustainable Business Practices

Part 1

Question 1

The extensive adoption of clean cookstoves as discussed in the Clean Cooking case promises to contribute to the society’s efforts to address environmental issues addressed in Chapter 9 in two ways. These are the minimization of deforestation and a drastic reduction in carbon emissions.

The first effect relates to the understanding that trees and forests are an important natural resource in the society’s efforts to reduce global warming through the process of photosynthesis. As a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide represents one of the leading causes of global warming. Global warming is the outcome of an accumulation of greenhouse gases, including CO2, in the earth’s atmosphere. Photosynthesis is an important process in the effort to address global warming, in terms of the use of CO2 as a raw material. In the case, Lawrence and Weber (2016) note that primitive cooking methods in households in the developing world endanger the environment through deforestation in the effort to harvest trees for wood or charcoal fuel. The shift away from the use of open cookstoves to extensive use of clean cookstoves promises enhanced efficiency in the use of wood or charcoal fuel, and hence significantly reduced needs for the fuel in quantity terms. This effect is evident in particular examples in the Clean Cooking case. In Ghana, Toyola Energy invented and marketed a highly efficient stove made from scrap metal and fired clay liners. The stove’s efficiency in burning charcoal was twice as efficient as an open stove, promising a reduction in the level of emissions responsible for global warming that is equivalent to the amount that a Honda Civic produces when driven continuously for a year (Lawrence and Weber, 2016). The effect is that households across the developing world shall exploit trees and forests less, thereby boosting forest and tree cover. In turn, the increased forest and tree cover in the environment promises a higher capacity to utilize CO2 in the atmosphere through photosynthesis, thereby reducing the prevalence of one of the gases most responsible for global warming in the atmosphere.

The second effect stems from the observation that the use of open cookstoves in households across the developing world is responsible for adverse effects on the environment through the production of soot (black carbon). In the Clean Cooking case, Lawrence and Weber (2016) cite the conclusions of environmental scientists that black carbon is second behind CO2 in overall input to global warming. At the same time, the scientists argue that while CO2 lingers in the earth’s atmosphere for decades (thereby contributing to global warming in the long term), black carbon washes away in only days or weeks. In this context, reduced production and release of black carbon into the earth’s atmosphere promises a much more instant effect on global warming relative to efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions. The role of extensive adoption of clean cookstoves in the discussion case in efforts to address the environmental issues discussed in Chapter 9 is evident in this assessment. It would be especially effective in addressing the environmental concerns because of its application at the level of the household, rather than the community or national level. Lawrence and Weber (2016) cite the World Bank’s findings that households comprising 2.8b people in the developing world were using the inefficient open cookstoves in 2015. By implication, extensive adoption of the clean cookstoves is likely to have an immense and direct impact in the effort to address global warming. This is because of the drastic reduction in production of soot across the developing world.

 

Question 2

The extensive adoption of clean cookstoves as discussed in the Clean Cooking case promises significant gains in the society’s effort to battle poverty and promote economic development. These gains relate to promotions of entrepreneurship and employment opportunities, improvements in the health and wellbeing of citizens in the developing world, and promotion of the social and environmental aspects of economic development.

First, the extensive adoption of clean cookstoves promises widespread opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment across the developing world. This is especially because of the likelihood of individuals and communities in the third world taking advantage of the partnerships between international organizations and small and large industries and businesses to roll out the program for more efficient cookstoves. In the Clean Cooking case, Lawrence and Weber (2016) refer to the example of entrepreneurship and employment opportunities created through the initiative of collaborations between various governments and the United Nations Foundation to unveil the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. The goal of this initiative was to achieve the adoption of clean, efficient cooking stoves and fuels in 100m households throughout the world by 2020. To achieve the objective, the initiative acknowledged the need to partner with large and small enterprises across the world. Lawrence and Weber (2016) note the trend of entrepreneurs across the world taking advantage of the initiative to establish businesses dealing in the manufacture, design, and marketing of efficient cookstoves in line with the Alliance’s objectives. An illustration of the potential of extensive adoption of efficient cookstoves to generate entrepreneurship opportunities and create employment across the developing world is evident in the case of Toyola Energy. Suraj Wahab founded the enterprise in Ghana and employed 150 people to design and market an efficient cookstove that burns charcoal. The enterprise traded more than 150,000 units of the cookstove in a short period.

The second area of gain in confronting and addressing poverty and promoting economic development relates to improvements in the health and wellbeing of citizens in the developing world. This is an important effect in the effort to promote economic development because health and wellbeing are critical for the abilities of society members to engage in income generating activities that can reduce poverty. In the Clean Cooking case, Lawrence and Weber (2016) note the World Bank’s findings that 2.8b people in the developing world used inefficient cookstoves in 2015. The World Health Organization has identified substantial risks for the health and wellbeing of individuals who use these cookstoves. Estimates by the organization illustrate that indoor air pollution, involving the production of soot, smoke, and particles from primitive cooking methods, constitute the fifth most significant risk factor for human health in the developing world. These factors were responsible for about 2m premature deaths each year from lung and heart illnesses, representing higher mortality than malaria and tuberculosis combined (Lawrence & Weber, 2016). Use of the inefficient cookstoves further causes issues such as eye damage, pregnancy complications, asthma, and disfiguring burns, especially among children and women because of their expenditure of huge amounts of time around the stoves in the developing world. Lawrence and Weber (2016) note further that the use of primitive cooking methods features risks for head and back injuries, sexual violence, and animal attacks among women and girls in the process of searching for and carrying huge loads of charcoal and wood fuel for long distances. These assessments illustrate the potential of extensive adoption of the clean cookstoves to rid a broad range of dangers and risks for the health and wellbeing of people and communities in the developing world. The elimination of these risks would boost the capacities of individuals and communities in the developing world to engage in productive work more effectively and for longer in their lives. This would be the case especially with the reduction of risks for premature deaths from heart and lung illnesses. In this context, extensive adoption of the efficient cookstoves promises to boost the abilities and effectiveness of efforts to battle poverty in the developing world.

The third gain in efforts to battle poverty and promote economic development concerns the role of extensive adoption of efficient cookstoves in supporting the social and environmental aspects of economic development. Rather than the economic or income aspect alone, economic development includes the environmental and social elements. The social and environmental aspects are critical components whose neglect undermines the quality, equality, effectiveness, and sustainability of economic development (Deaton, 2010). Genuine and sustainable economic development features the aim to accumulate value in the lives of society members through the incorporation of all the aspects of their lives and experiences (Soares & Quintella, 2008). In this background, extensive adoption of the clean cookstoves in the Clean Cooking case promises effective contributions to the wellbeing of individuals and communities on all fronts – economically, environmentally, and socially. The implication is that the adoption of clean cookstoves is a wholesome process of economic development that assures progress in all three aspects.

Part 2

One company that has illustrated a commitment to sustainable development policies and initiatives is Hewlett-Packard (HP). HP is an American multinational enterprise operating in the information technology industry, developing and marketing hardware and software products across the world.

External Influences and Forces

As a company, HP has experienced external pressures that have influenced its commitment to business management practices that are environmentally and socially responsible. The first of these influences relates to the international community’s pressure for companies to be sensitive to the effect of their business models and strategies on the society and the environment. Over the past few decades, the international community, including non-governmental organizations, human rights organizations, and advocacy organizations, has promoted awareness of the impact of business activities on environmental resources and diverse aspects of human rights (Boyle, 2012). This awareness has pressurized HP and other enterprises to reform their business methods and strategies to ensure that they have minimum negative effects on the economy, society, and environment. This pressure has focused particularly on the sustainability of chosen methods and strategies of business. The international community has pressurized businesses to develop and implement sustainable methods of business by linking these responsibilities with human rights. The basis of this link is the understanding that local economies and societies have rights to environmental resources and their quality and protection as an issue of society members’ rights. The idea that companies have the obligation to avoid compromising the quality of resources and mind the wellbeing of future generations has pressurized HP to develop and implement society and environment-friendly practices of business. Examples of HP’s practices that are the outcome of such pressure are evident in HP’s Sustainable Impact Report (2018). These include programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its supply chain and recycling electronics hardware and supplies waste.

A second related influence is market pressure concerning the nature of performance in socially and environmentally responsible business as a component of the ways in which consumers experience and perceive companies’ brands in the modern society. Banerjee (2009) defines Corporate Social Responsibility as the self-regulatory focus of businesses with the aim of promoting or aligning with the society’s goals, particularly in regard to human rights, environmental health, human health, and social wellbeing. The performances of individual enterprises in these responsibilities towards the society have developed into a critical basis of the ways in which customers in the market perceive and experience company brands. In turn, these perceptions and experiences have become important influences in the purchasing decisions of customers (Baisya, 2013). In this context, HP has found it necessary to ensure that its models of business and engagement with stakeholders are environmentally and socially responsible. HP’s Sustainable Impact Report (2018) contains various examples of practices in the company’s operations that are the outcome of this pressure to create positive impressions of its brand in the market. These include the recycling of hardware waste to reduce pollution, development of green products, investments to equip and empower communities through education, and ensuring that the HP supply and value chains respect human rights.

A third external influence on HP’s development of socially responsible models of business is public outcry concerning the ethical and social impact of its business methods. In particular, it is important to note the case of administrative proceedings at the Securities and Exchange Commission concerning the charge that HP had violated the law when its subsidiaries in Poland, Russia, and Mexico made inappropriate payments to officials in government to secure lucrative government contracts (Carroll, 2014). This case in 2014 was damaging for HP, both in terms of its brand and financially. Carroll (2014) notes that HP ended up paying a massive penalty of $108m to settle the charges by the SEC and a concurrent criminal case. The pressure from this case compelled HP to be more cautious in its business practices, particularly in terms of social responsibility.

Internal Influences

One internal influence on HP’s commitment to business management practices that are socially and environmentally responsible is the company’s intention to attain and retain competitiveness in the IT industry against rivals such as Dell and Microsoft. To remain competitive in the global market and grow its revenue and market share, HP requires the loyalty of customers. The company’s performance in the areas of social and environmental responsibility is an important determining influence on customers’ associations of its products with their needs and desires, and hence on their loyalty to the company in purchasing decisions. A second internal influence is HP’s desire to be a top brand in the IT sector. This desire requires the HP management to perform highly in ethical and socially and environmentally responsible practices owing to the critical role of such excellence in enhancement of its brand in the market. High performance in these practices is an important influence on positive views and experiences of the HP brand in the market. This understanding influences the HP management’s commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices. This commitment is evident in HP’s focus on sustainability as an element of the effort to enhance its brand.

Global Impact of Sustainable Development Initiatives

One initiative of sustainable development in which HP participates is a partnership with supplier partners and the First Mile Coalition to help in tackling the growing problem of plastic pollution in the ocean. In 2016, HP and these partners launched the program in Haiti. By 2018, HP and these partners had built a fully-operational supply chain to address the problem (HP SIR, 2018). By March 2019, the project had succeeded in collecting more than 25m plastic bottles for recycling into print cartridges and hardware products. This collected mass of plastic bottles translates into about 325 tons of plastic material that would otherwise have washed into the Caribbean Sea (HP SIR, 2018). This initiative contributes immensely to efforts to protect the marine ecosystem. The impact of this initiative is especially significant considering the logistical, organizational, and administrative challenges that confront efforts to protect the world’s ecosystems. The initiative promises immense value in the effort to promote the quality and sustainability of the ocean ecosystem around the world.

Technology for Sustainable Development

As an IT company, HP occupies a strategic position to apply technology in its efforts to achieve and promote sustainable development. The enterprise utilizes internet technology, devices, and protocols of communications and information transmission to interact with customers and stakeholders in sustainable business efforts. In particular, the company utilizes the internet platform to maintain a website and social media accounts that it utilizes as tools for mass communications and the provision of updates on its activities and programs of sustainable business and development. The platforms are especially important in this context for the purpose of creating a debate and obtaining feedback from diverse stakeholders on these activities and their value.

 

References

Baisya, R. (2013). Branding in the competitive marketplace. New Delhi, India: Sage Publishing

Banerjee, S. (2009). Corporate Social Responsibility: The good, the bad, and the ugly. London, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing

Boyle, A. (2012). Human rights and the environment: Where next? The European Journal of International Law 23(3): 613-642.

Carroll, D. (2014). HP’s Russia unit pleads guilty in bribery case. USA Today. Retrieved from: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/09/11/hp-russia-poland-mexico-bribery/15479533/

Deaton, A. (2010).Understanding the mechanisms of economic development. Journal of Economic Perspectives 24(3): 3-16.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) (2018). Sustainable Impact Report, 2018. HP SIR. Retrieved from: http://h20195.www2.hp.com/v2/GetDocument.aspx?docname=c06293935

Soares, J., & Quintella, R. (2008). Development: An analysis of concepts, measurement, and indicators. Brazilian Administration Review 5(2): 104-124.