Despite the fact that the environment has attracted economists' interest for almost a century, it has not been until the early 1970s that environmental problems have been recognized as legitimate phenomena. However, they have not really attracted a serious attention among industrialists and management theorists until the beginning of the 1990s. During the past decade or so industry has been central in shaping a new corporate environmentalism. It is argued that, it is time to step back and critically assess the nature and scope of corporate actions and scientific research within the field of corporate environmental management. This paper sets of from a series of empirical studies carried out during the past decade to provide a firm basis from which the authors will critically assessment the achievements. Following the introduction, the paper analyzes the roots and the development in the area of organizations and the natural environment. Departuring from a stakeholder conception of the firm, the paper presents data and analyses from a longitudinal study initiated in 1995 and repeated every forth year since then. In discussing state-of-the-art insight and experiences, the paper identifies challenges, if adequately addressed, may help bringing the discipline out of it's theoretical and epistemological deadlock. The paper concludes that, unless academia proactively take over the control of the environmental management discipline, reductionists are likely to succeed to keep control of the agenda setting for the ongoing environmental debate and in reducing it into a question of self-regulated eco-modernist actions. In closing, the paper addresses implications for academia and industry.
Proceedings of the Organization and Natural Environment Conference, 2004