After Greenwashing: Symbolic Corporate Environmentalism and by Frances Bowen

By Frances Bowen

Companies advertise their environmental know-how via eco-friendly constructions, eco-labels, sustainability experiences, pledges and fresh applied sciences. while are those symbols wasteful company spin, and whilst do they sign genuine environmental advancements? in response to 20 years of study, 3 wealthy case reviews, a robust theoretical version and various functional purposes, this publication presents the 1st systematic research of the drivers and effects of symbolic company environmentalism. It addresses the oblique expense of businesses' symbolic activities and develops a brand new inspiration of the 'social power penalty' - the associated fee to society whilst strong company actors restrict the social dialog on environmental difficulties and their recommendations. This considerate publication develops a collection of instruments for researchers, regulators and bosses to split worthy environmental details from empty company spin, and should attract researchers and scholars of company accountability, company environmental method and sustainable company, in addition to environmental practitioners.

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1). ’s (2012: 828) ‘active dissemination of misleading information to present an environmentally responsible public image’ (see also Laufer 2003; Ramus and Montiel 2005; and Vos 2009). Laufer’s (2003) study of greenwashing in the socially responsible investment industry became a canonical early description of how ‘corporations creatively manage their reputations with the public, financial community, and regulators, so as to hide deviance, deflect attributions of fault, obscure the nature of the problem of allegation, reattribute blame, ensure an entity’s reputation and, finally, seem to appear in a leadership position’ (Laufer 2003: 255).

Motivated activists 36 After greenwashing are becoming better adept at recognising deliberate greenwash. However, they need to put aside their most critical voices to be able to maintain productive conversations with firms and governments. This can lead them to inadvertently support symbolic actions over no action at all. For an illustration of how this can work in practice, consider the WWF’s response to the failed UN Rio+20 environmental summit in July 2012. The ENGO criticised the intergovernmental draft agreement, pointing out that it included the words ‘encourage’ fifty times and ‘support’ ninety-nine times but mentioned the words ‘we will’ and ‘must’ fewer than ten times in total (The Economist 2012).

They encourage us to go ‘beyond simply greenwash’ in the narrow sense of positive environmental communication coupled with poor environmental performance. The slowing growth in academic papers mentioning greenwashing – and early calls to place greenwashing within a broader organisational context – may signal the decline of narrow greenwashing in academic circles as well. 1). ’s (2012: 828) ‘active dissemination of misleading information to present an environmentally responsible public image’ (see also Laufer 2003; Ramus and Montiel 2005; and Vos 2009).

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