The greening of the chief executive

Environmental Management and Business Strategy
November 19, 1999

It is strange that I should find myself reviewing a book of the same title as one of my own published in 1993 (with Andrew Gouldson). This, however, is rather a different book and - not surprising given the past six years of development in the field - it is rather different and probably better.

Its strength is that rather than using the term strategy in a rather loose and non-specific way, this book is firmly embedded in the modern literature on business strategy with particular emphasis given to issues such as competitive advantage, new product development and stakeholder accountability.

What makes this book different from its many competitors is its emphasis on leadership, a bold approach that works well. I have come to believe that whatever systems and strategies are put into place in an organisation,nothing will be really effective without leadership. This book makes an attempt to show that and it works rather well.

Sections on compliance, business strategies for environmental improvement and leadership are well supported with some interesting and well-

written cases, which add to the usefulness of the book to MBA audiences who will be able to link such cases to their own experiences. But the book will also be of use to undergraduates who are studying corporate environmental management courses.

The text is written by Americans largely for an American audience. As such, it lacks the nuances that would recognise that many European environmental strategies have been as successful as those in the US. For a European audience, one might be left with the impression that it is US companies that are taking the lead in the area of environmental responsibility, which would be far from true.

The book is also perhaps overly optimistic, charting what can be done and showing what has been done, but never really getting to grips with the massive contradictions between corporate environmentalism and the traditional capitalist system.

The content is, nevertheless, to be welcomed. Much of it is not to be found within mainstream courses on business strategy where, sadly, environmental issues are often completely neglected.

Richard Welford is professor of corporate environmental management, University of Huddersfield.

Environmental Management and Business Strategy: Leadership Skills for the 21st Century

Author - Bruce Piasecki, Kevin Fletcher and Frank Mendelson
ISBN - 0 471 16972 2
Publisher - Wiley
Price - £22.50
Pages - 348

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