Summary of "Management for a Small Planet: Strategic Decision Making and the Environment"

Summary of

Management for a Small Planet: Strategic Decision Making and the Environment

By W. Edward Stead and Jean Garner Stead

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

Citation: Management for a Small Planet: Strategic Decision Making and the Environment, W. Edward Stead, Jean Garner Stead, (California: Sage Publications, 1992), 201 pp.

Management for a Small Planet: Strategic Decision Making and the Environment is an examination of the social, scientific, psychological and economic components of making environmentally sensitive business decisions. In addition, the work offers a "... new strategic decision-making frame-work that will aid in achieving long-term economic success within the limits of the ecosystem".

Management for a Small Planet: Strategic Decision Making and the Environment will be of interest to those who seek a method for business decision-making that is sensitive to environmental issues. The work is divided into three parts the first of which is entitled "Introduction to a Small Planet". The authors assert that it is a time for a change in the way that strategic decisions are made. They offer a basic model of business and the ecosystem and assert the need for a new economic paradigm. The final concern of the first chapter is an explanation of the plan of the book. This will also serve as an executive summary which, being clear and succinct, cannot be improved upon by this author; and thus, will be quoted in toto.

The second chapter of the first part provides a summary of the environmental issues faced by the planet. We examine how the conversion of natural resources into economic outputs in order to satisfy the economic desires of an ever-increasing population base has led to problems such as global warming, ozone depletion, water pollution and depletion, deforestation, oil and mineral depletion, land degradation, and so on.

Part 2 examines conceptual frameworks relevant to understanding what a small planet is and how it relates to economic growth and managerial decision-making. This section draws on information from such diverse disciplines as physics, environmental science, biology, economics, management, psychology, sociology, and ethics. In chapter 3, we discuss the Earth as a living system, and we examine such topics as thermodynamics and energy science. By introducing these topics, we hope to make readers aware that management decisions need to be consistent with the limits of the Earth, because that is their venue. In chapter 4, we discuss the role values play in complex human decision-making. Because strategic decisions represent the most complex and multidimensional decisions made by business managers, we feel it is important to provide managers with a clear picture of how their values influence their strategic choices. In chapter 5, we discuss some of the basic fallacies of the current economic paradigm and present some of the ideas being forwarded about a new, more environmentally sensitive economic paradigm.

The final part of the book focuses on how business managers can adapt their strategic decision-making approaches to include a small-planet way of thinking and acting. In chapter 6, we discuss the emerging management paradigm, and we make some suggestions for incorporating the planet into that paradigm. In chapter 7, we present values for a small planet. These are values that, if adopted by strategic decision makers, can be instrumental in helping managers make choices that are compatible with the ecosystem. Chapter 8 focuses on the growing movements among organizational stakeholders (including consumers, investors, and the political/legal system) demanding environmental responsibility from organisations. In the final chapter of the book (chapter 9), we present the concept of "sustainable strategies," (sic) which are strategies designed to integrate the ecological needs of the planet with the long-term economic needs of the firm.

Management for a Small Planet: Strategic Decision Making and the Environment is written in a clear and succinct manner, evidenced by the summary quoted above. This work will serve as a basic critique of market approaches for the reader who wishes to pursue the subject in greater depth.