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In pursuit of environmental excellence: A stakeholder analysis of the environmental management strategies and performance of an Australian energy company

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ This paper aims to provide a stakeholder analysis of the environmental management strategies and a two-dimensional (economic and environmental) performance of an Australian energy company that seeks environmental excellence. Unlike the dominant largely positivistic studies which seek an association between environmental and financial performance, the paper aims to use the richness of a case study methodology to gain a deeper understanding of how environmental concerns are handled and what outcomes in terms of environmental and economic performance are achieved. Design/methodology/approach ‐ An in-depth case study approach involving interviews, archival material and site visits is used in this paper. It starts with a brief engagement with the largely positivistic literature, highlighting the major deficiencies of this scholarship and then presents a more interpretive empirical analysis using an Australian energy company. Findings ‐ The paper finds that there are socio-political processes that are enlisted to control, monitor, and instil discipline in the organization's pursuit of its social initiatives, which help to improve both its financial and environmental performance. Practical implications ‐ The paper provides evidence that environmental and economic performance are not always mutually exclusive, and corporate entities can excel in both simultaneously. The paper also provides evidence that the environmental strategies may be overt attempts at pushing the socio-political agenda of the dominant stakeholder group. What seems like a win-win situation may only represent a political-ethical attempt to promote environmentalism in the Australian energy sector. Originality/value ‐ This paper uses a two-stage investigation process to extend one's understanding of the relationship between corporate environmental and financial performance. First, evidence of improving environmental and financial performance of an energy company is provided, and then the paper explores why and how this relationship exists in the second stage of the analysis. The mainstream and critical accounting literature is bridged by focusing on issues that are largely the domain of one sub-literature with a differentiated case study that is largely encouraged in the other.

Keywords: Australia; Energy industry; Environmental management; Environmental performance; Financial performance; Stakeholders; Strategy

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513571111161620

Publication date: September 20, 2011

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