Institutionalizing an environmental agenda in business

Schaefer, Anja (2003). Institutionalizing an environmental agenda in business. In: Academy of Management Annual Conference, 1-6 Aug 2003, Seattle, USA.


This paper studies the extent and manner in which an environmental agenda is being institutionalised in two companies in the UK water industry through discursive practices. The paper draws mostly on Fairclough's understanding of critical discourse analysis, taking into account the three dimensions of text, discourse practice, and socio-cultural practice. Analyzing managerial discourse - mostly in the form of interviews - over a period of five years, the paper looks at the discursive means by which a pro-environmental agenda is being established, legitimized and supported. The analysis also pays special attention to the degree of homogeneity or contestedness of environmental discourse within and between the two companies. It concludes that a pro-environmental agenda has been established to some extent in both companies, legitmized mostly through reference to competitive advantage and the law. However, there are differences in the way in which this agenda is legitimized and supported and in the degree to which the company's emvironmental strategy is contested internally. Some conclusions are drawn regarding the likely way in which companies will establish and support environmental concerns and the implications this may have for a wider environmental agenda and public policy.

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