Summary of "Greening Business: Managing for Sustainable Development"

Summary of

Greening Business: Managing for Sustainable Development

By John Davis

Summary written by T.A. O'Lonergan, Conflict Research Consortium

Citation: Greening Business: Managing for Sustainable Development, John Davis, (Massachusetts: Basil Blackwell, 1991), 208 pp.

Greening Business: Managing for Sustainable Development will be of interest to those who seek an understanding of the effect of the environmental movement on the management of business. The first chapter is an attempt to define'?sustainable development'. The author addresses some commonly held assumptions about sustainable development by both economics and business. He also offers what he views as the radical business transformation strategies necessary to attain sustainable development. The second chapter asserts the need for vision and values in business management: visions of essential purpose and corporate values.

The third chapter discusses the relationship between scale effects and: administration, purchasing, pricing, technology, marketing and profitability. No mention is made of the scale effects and the environment. The fourth chapter examines: the choice between manufacturing and reconditioning, the balance between money and human productivity, and the misleading nature of the Gross National Product approach to estimations of economic growth. The author addresses the possibility of achieving good quality work with alternative business arrangements. He considers the influence of new technology on work, the need for investment in the labour force, alternative arrangements for accomplishing work, and expectations of, and attitudes toward these new arrangements.

The sixth chapter considers the distinction between research and development. In this context the author addresses the question of how much research and development is needed and provides a framework for such development. The next chapter is an evaluation of alternative ownership schemes. The author asserts that absentee landlord owners dehumanize the labour force. He offers only a cursory examination of what is termed a 'State form of capitalism' (without a definition of what this might be), and then dismisses such a scheme out of hand as "... demonstrably an unsatisfactory alternative"... Reformed private ownership seems to hold some promise for Davis.

The eighth chapter is an examination of: quality management, standards, codes of practice, and the impact of sustainable development on business practices. Following an examination of the necessity of changing "... habits of thought and action" the author addresses the financial environment of small firms and cooperatives and issues a call to action. The last chapter save one, discusses the new opportunities offered by sustainable technologies. The authors assert that all industry and businesses must be reformed. The final chapter acts as a postscript and offers an assessment of sustainable development as a common aim for East and West; one which will require the formation of a new economics "... grounded in traditional wisdom".

Greening Business: Managing for Sustainable Development is a cursory examination of capitalist business management, which offers capitalist solutions to business attempts to respond to the environmental movement.