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Stages of Evolution of Corporate Environmental Management

Distinctive, evolutionary patterns of corporate environmental behavior have been observed by many authors. Hunt and Auster presented an artifactual description of five stages of corporate environmental development starting with "beginner," and progressing through "fire fighter," "concerned citizen," "pragmatist," and ''proactivist."1 Shrivastava referred to this process of environmentally directed self-renewal as "greenewal." That process, he states, is initiated by a strategic threat from regulations, public pressures, public safety concerns, or social expectations. The embattled firm then forms ad hoc strategic programs, testing their competitive benefits and, if necessary, expanding the organizational systems through institutionalization and cultural changes.2

The five stages shown in Figure 1 have been used by researchers at MIT to classify observed and anticipated changes as corporate environmental management evolves. A brief description of the attitudes and practices is given for each stage. For consistency with the latter part of this paper, we combine the third and fourth stage into a single one, "Proactive Environmental Management," in the discussion below.3

Environmental Management as Problem-Solving

At this, the most basic level, the underlying assumption of the firm is that environmental protection is of little or no concern to corporate decision-making.

Figure 1 Historical evolution of environmental management.

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