. "Appendix C Business Decisions and the Environment: Significance, Challenges, and Momentum of an Emerging Research Field--Andrew J. Hoffman." Decision Making for the Environment: Social and Behavioral Science Research Priorities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2005.
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Decision Making for the Environment: Social and Behavioral Science Research Priorities
and the environment (i.e., Royston, 1979, 1980) and, later, with the formation of research consortia such as the Greening of Industry Network (Fischer and Schott, 1993) and the Management Institute for Environment and Business (now part of the World Resources Institute). What began as a modest offshoot of management research has grown into a maturing area of study within the management sciences. It is now possible to step back and view the state of this field in terms of where it has been and where it is going. In this appendix I consider what is distinct about existing research in business decision making and the environment and consider future directions in which the field is going.
CORPORATE ENVIRONMENTALISM AS AN EMPIRICAL DOMAIN
The past century has witnessed unprecedented economic growth and human prosperity. Global per capita income has nearly tripled (World Business Council on Sustainable Development, 1997), average life expectancy has increased by almost two-thirds (World Resources Institute, 1994), and people are significantly more literate and educated than their predecessors. Many of these improvements in the quality of life have been driven by the accomplishments of industry. Advancing developments in medicine, materials, transportation, communication, and food production have all emerged from the industrial sector. But, since the 1960s, society has begun to question some of the assumptions around the treatment of the environment as (1) an endless source of resources and (2) a limitless sink for wastes. This has resulted in both an appreciation that corporate activity is the source of environmental problems, but also more recently that industry can also be the solution. This is the area in which research in managerial decision making has the most to offer.
Industry as a Problem
In 2000 private worldwide consumption expenditures reached more than $20 trillion, an increase of more than fourfold since 1960 (in 1995 dollars) (Starke, 2004). To fuel this consumption, industry consumes vast amounts of material resources, and rates will increase. Between 1990 and 2000, sales of the largest 100 transnational corporations increased 50 percent to $4.8 trillion (World Resources Institute, 2001). And 50-75 percent of the annual resource inputs to industrial economies overall become wastes within a year (World Resources Institute, 2000a). This industrial activity has had and will continue to have critical impacts on the natural environment. For example:
The global rate of deforestation averaged 9 million hectares per