Challenges on the Path Toward Sustainability in Europe

Cover of Challenges on the Path Toward Sustainability in Europe
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Synopsis

Table of contents

(17 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xiii
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Part I – Where does Europe stand?

Abstract

The chapter describes the milestones at the global and European level on the path toward sustainable development. The first steps toward a different growth agenda were made in 1970s when the “Limits to growth” highlighted the divergence with the increasing needs of the growing population, the limited supply of resources, the planet can provide and the growing pollution. In 1980s the Brundtland report defined sustainable development as a three-dimensional one: economic, social and environmental, stressing not only the interplay between the goals, but also the global interdependence and the need for joint action to achieve the goals. Several ambitious strategies were prepared, most notably the Kyoto protocol, the Millenium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which are shaping global policies at the moment. The European Union has always been at the forefront of the efforts toward sustainability with its ambitious goals, which includes not only achieving SDGs, but also moving further, for example, toward a circular development approach.

Abstract

European Union (EU) as a whole has made modest short-term progress toward sustainable development goals (SDG). Only in one goal (ensuring healthy lives and promotion of well-being) out of 17, the progress was substantial. The most problematic goals, which show movements away from sustainable development objectives, are goals that are focused on building resilient infrastructure, promotion of inclusive, sustainable industrialization, fostering innovation, and the goal that takes urgent action to combat climate changes. The analysis between old and new EU members revealed that median new EU member has made bigger progress in the last five years. For 11 SDGs, the average score is lover for median new EU member compared to median old EU member. However, the last available level of the indicator is in general still more favorable for median old EU member compared to median new EU member.

Part II – The corporate and consumer perspective

Abstract

This chapter analyses the evolution of strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR). Despite extensive research on the strategic aspects of CSR, the absence of a well-defined theoretical concept has hindered the development of the field. The authors build on the four mechanisms that conceptually distinguish strategic CSR from CSR in general: enhancing firm reputation, increasing stakeholder reciprocation, mitigating firm risk, and strengthening innovation capacity. By using bibliometric methods, we analyze the main topics, references, and sources of papers, found in the Web of Science Core Collection database. The analysis of the strategic CSR field discusses main topics through three periods (1991–2009, 2010–2014, and 2015–2019). The findings help identify the mapping of conceptual space of the strategic CSR field and suggest grounds for continuing the debates on how to advance the micro-level perspectives on CSR.

Abstract

This chapter discusses the evolvement of the sustainability concept and its importance in the strategic management context. First, the authors review the development of the concept over the last century and presents the most commonly used sustainability definitions. Then, the three pillars of sustainability (economic, natural and social) are reviewed, highlighting the sustainability aspect of each pillar individually and the problems of their non-substitutability, irreversibility and non-linearity. Based on the literature review, this chapter discusses the main motives for integration of sustainability concept into the overall strategy of the company, namely compliance with regulation, response to public concern, expected competitive advantage and top management commitment. Furthermore, important distinctions between reactive and proactive approaches are presented, and the results and benefits (such as cost reductions, differentiation and added value) of proactive approaches to corporate sustainability are analyzed. Nevertheless, such benefits can only be achieved if corporate sustainability is understood and treated as a holistic concept, which is deeply embedded in the company’s strategy and is approached proactively from the interdisciplinary viewpoint, looking at all three dimensions simultaneously.

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Abstract

By utilizing a large sample of firms during the period 2006–2017, the author determine which types of firms are more likely to go bankrupt. The author shows that over-leveraged firms have significantly higher probability of going bankrupt, which highlight the importance of the concept of optimal corporate capital structure. The author finds that private firms and export-oriented firms experience lower hazard rates. Proposed hazard statistical model highlights that more profitable firms, firms with better liquidity, firms with more tangible assets and larger firms all have statistically higher survival rates. The author finds that bankruptcy rates are the lowest among service firms and the highest in construction industry. Ownership variables indicate that state-owned firms, firms with foreign ownership and firms, owned by holdings, are less likely to fail, all else equal. Finally, the author demonstrates that proposed statistical model successfully predicts the probability of bankruptcy. The mean cumulative hazard function for a group of surviving firms is statistically significantly lower compared to a group of failing firms. In order to survive in a long run, firm’s management should especially be aware of their optimal capital structure and use rather less leverage than going over the sustainable level.

Abstract

In the last decade the discussion on green innovations has gained in importance, both in practice and in academia. This chapter builds on the idea that performance in innovation capturing environmental aspects doesn’t depend only on inputs but also the synchronization of different stakeholders, firms and policy-makers that make an innovation-driven society. In disruptive periods, green adaptive ability which refers to ability to comply with environmental regulations is based on corporate environmental commitments and their social responsibility as well as on green human capital. Based on corporate environmental commitments, companies seek business opportunities by changing their business models as well as by integrating, building and reconfiguring competences to comply with environmental standards. Green human capital, on the other side, builds organizational culture that supports green innovation. The aim of this chapter is to present a conceptual model that stimulates green innovations at the company level and discusses the proper governance structure supportive of innovation and effective strategies of policy-making.

Abstract

Outsourcing of business-logistics services is a well-established business practice that allows an outsourcer to obtain the services or products from a logistics-service provider (LSP). The outsourcer can order a range of logistics services, including but not limited to warehousing, transportation, and forwarding. The outsourcers had traditionally focused on service-provider selection criteria such as costs, quality, and responsiveness while having devoted considerably less attention to how sustainably the practices are carried out. Past research identified different external and internal motivators that facilitate consideration of sustainability in selection of the service providers, whereas the current study investigates the outsourcers’ perception of importance of environmental sustainability in adoption of green logistics practices and selection of LSPs. We use a vantage point of outsourcers (“buyers”) to conduct the quantitative research based on a survey conducted on large manufacturing companies. The findings reveal a (mis)match between the perception of importance and realized inclusion of environmental-sustainability criteria. Ultimately, this study finds a link between the levels of perception and rate of adoption, and provides recommendations for the future adoption of environmental-sustainability criteria in the selection of the LSPs.

Abstract

This chapter captures the interrelatedness of sustainable production and consumption, which can be brought together in the concept of sustainable market exchange. The purpose of this chapter is to develop and present a framework of sustainable market exchange, including the key players, factors that influence sustainable behavior and issues that need to be addressed to achieve sustainable market exchange. The framework includes the ecological, economic, and social dimensions, while factors in the framework are classified into three groups: individual, relational, and societal. The sustainability spheres and stakeholders contribute to raising the importance of the phenomenon in the long run. The authors subsequently conduct an exploratory quantitative study to examine the features of the framework which is empirically examined from the perspective of one group of stakeholders that needs to be understood better, that is, consumers. Searching for answers to research questions on how consumers perceive their sustainable behavior, company sustainable behavior, how perceptions of production and consumption are related and what are the differences according to individual factors, the authors demonstrate different emphasis that consumers place on different sustainability dimensions and suggest recommendations for encouraging sustainable market exchange for management and public policy stakeholders.

Part III – The Socio-Economic and Regulatory Context of Sustainable Development

Abstract

In the coming decades, the aging of European population will continue at a rapid pace. The National Transfer Accounts (NTA) methodology breaks down the income and consumption by age to analyze the impact of population aging on economic sustainability and economy in general. This chapter uses fully comparable results of NTA for 25 European Union countries in 2010 to indicate the potential increase in dependency in the future given the current institutional setting. Next to the conventionally defined demographic dependency ratio, we add (1) the NTA dependency ratio using the age patterns of production and consumption in the market and (2) the National Time Transfer Accounts dependency ratio using age patterns of production and consumption originating from unpaid work that is mostly provided within the households. The authors show that imbalances will originate from the impact of population aging on market part of the economy. Further, some imbalances will also be coming from unpaid work but of much lesser extent.

Abstract

European Union (EU) member states are dedicated to a set of sustainable development goals, among them to: (1) promote well-being for all at all the ages and (2) achieve gender equality. This chapter uses the National Transfer Accounts (NTA) methodology that enables comprehensive measurement of intergenerational transfers, both public and private, and differences in the gender equality promotion among the countries. Our analysis is based on the fully comparable NTA results for 25 EU countries from 2010. The authors perform cluster analysis based on five indicators, measuring the importance of different types of age reallocations and the differences in gender equality promotion among the EU countries. Since the economic life cycle (showing the level of dependency) and its financing strongly depend on country-specific institutional and cultural settings, the authors link their results with the typical welfare regimes’ typology. The authors end up with three different groups of countries showing a clear north–south division of countries.

Abstract

Affordable and clean energy as well as regulation and decrease in emissions are in the heart of sustainable development goals. In order to achieve these goals, cleaner technologies together with responsible consumption and production need to be adopted. Therefore, the knowledge, skills and habits – the human capital and increased awareness of its importance, play an important role. The relationship between sustainability and human capital has been addressed only recently. There had been two streams of literature, investigating either (i) the relationship of human capital and the economic growth, or (ii) the nexus of economic growth and sustainability, without realizing the interconnectedness of these concepts. In this chapter, the authors add contribution to this scarce, yet growing body of literature by investigating the relationship between human capital (measured by Index of human capital) and two measures of sustainability: electricity use and CO2 emissions for a panel of European Union Member States. The authors show that the increase in human capital is associated with the decrease in energy consumption and CO2 emissions and therefore is associated with the increase in sustainability. This chapter bears important policy implications since it shows that the human capital, its stock and quality, should be included in the sustainability discussions and is important for achieving the sustainability goals.

Abstract

Education promotes the development of human capital, which has long been studied in the literature as a key determinant of economic development. Education is today listed as key part of public intangible capital and is further studied in the context of new growth determinants. This chapter extends the analysis of the contribution of education as a public intangible capital to the economic growth. It shows that education in fact promotes all three components of sustainable development. First, education promotes economic development and higher value-added creation, second, it is related to better and more job opportunities, higher wages, promotes health, etc., and consequently contributes to the achievement of the “social” dimension of sustainable development. Last, more educated population is also more prone toward supporting environmental goals. Therefore, investment into education is very important from the perspective of sustainable development. With offering a range of opportunities to individuals, the role of public education and policy-making in the field is essential to promote sustainable development from this perspective.

Abstract

This chapter provides comments and suggestions to the lawmaker, and especially to economic policy-makers in the field of the optimal regulatory framework and implementation of sustainable practices. The main findings are as follows: (1) degradation of the rule of law in several European Union (EU) Member States and constant political undermining of the legal institutions represent the main threat for the implementation of sustainable practices and development; (2) the golden regulatory rule of thumb provides that regulatory intervention is suggested merely in cases of market failures under the condition that the costs of such intervention do not exceed the benefits; (3) over-regulation might impede implementation of sustainable practices, distort the operation of the market, undermine productivity, diminish growth and social wealth and consequently also sustainability; (4) efficiency and wealth maximization should be the lawmaker’s leading normative principle in designing the legal framework that will enable effective implementation of sustainable practices; (5) the efficient level of harmonization or subsidiarity of decision-making in the EU urges for a rigorous investigation of costs and benefits of the EU top-down harmonization policies which should lead to a better, efficient vertical allocation of sustainability agenda between EU and the Member States; and (6) The Reflection Paper on Sustainable Development Goals – “Towards a Sustainable Europe in 2030” – represents an effective institutional framework in pursue of the overall sustainability targets.

Index

Pages 313-320
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Cover of Challenges on the Path Toward Sustainability in Europe
DOI
10.1108/9781800439726
Publication date
2020-12-04
Editors
ISBN
978-1-80043-973-3
eISBN
978-1-80043-972-6