Sustainable consumption and growth: Examining complementary perspectives

Manjula S. Salimath (College of Business, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Vallari Chandna (Austin E. Cofrin School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 2 July 2018

Abstract

Purpose

By drawing attention to the finite rather than unlimited nature of physical resources, the purpose of this paper is to: examine the implications of the (near absolute) emphasis placed on firm growth on sustainable consumption; and discuss complementary perspectives spanning individual, firm and societal levels that allow for both firm growth and sustainable consumption.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors integrate multidisciplinary insights from marketing, sociology, environmental sciences, management and economics, to understand the inherent tensions between unchecked firm growth, consumption and sustainability. Five propositions link production, consumption and marketing from a resource standpoint.

Findings

A ceaseless economic growth paradigm and overconsumption causes an unwarranted depletion of resources and is at odds with sustainability. Firms can play an important role by guiding future marketing and production toward sustainable ends. Several alternate perspectives support the case that growth may coexist and align with sustainable consumption. Consequently the authors consolidate and reflect on seven approaches (voluntary simplicity, humane consumption, CSR 2.0, social marketing, marketing 3.0, anti-positional economy and degrowth) that hold promise for achieving sustainability via responsible growth and consumption.

Originality/value

The authors consider the complex triad of growth, consumption and sustainability that spans multiple levels. A focus on the pattern and nature of growth and consumption helps to identify its effects on sustainability. Specifically, two value chain activities – production and marketing may be leveraged as firm level initiatives to achieve sustainable goals. In addition, the authors present seven heterogeneous perspectives that complement firm attempts to achieve growth with sustainable consumption. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Keywords

Citation

Salimath, M. and Chandna, V. (2018), "Sustainable consumption and growth: Examining complementary perspectives", Management Decision, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/MD-12-2016-0934

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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