The activities of various firms and businesses translate to a myriad of environmental issues. The responsibility of companies and businesses towards the environment is continually emphasized through care for the natural environment (Gomes, Scherer, Gonçalves, Neto & Kruglianskas 2013). As a result, many firms are taking up environmental sustainability while designing their business strategies and objectives (Del Río, Peñasco & Romero-Jordán 2015).
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Ideally, an integration of a firm’s environmental aspects into its strategies translates into non-environmental benefits like higher sales, return on investment, new market development, product differentiation, and better product image among others (Dangelico & Pontrandolfo 2015). However, the incorporation of environmental activities in the business strategy of the firm may lead to poor financial performance over the short run. Notably, such initiatives are costly, impeding on the general revenues of the company. Nonetheless, there is a growing demand from key business stakeholders; that is the local community that the business is operating in, to the final customers, for firms to undertake sustainable environmental practices (Dögl & Behnam 2014).
However, the integration of green management into the strategy of the business encompasses key challenges and needs to develop novel capabilities to handle such challenges (Bacchici, Dowell & King 2012). Notably, the idea of how to manage a firm’s capabilities and resources is addressed in the resource-based view line of thought. Thus, a company may make provisions in its Resource-based view by expanding it to ensure that it includes both opportunities and challenges present in the natural environment (Ghosal 2013). As a result, most studies utilize the Resource-based view to analyze strategic issues likely to affect the environment (Aragón-Correa & Sharma 2003).
While most studies expose the link between a business’s environmental strategies, its competitive advantages, and capabilities as well as its financial performance, however, there have been minimal studies explaining how an organization can channel their abilities and skills, better their image and market performance besides promoting environmental sustainability.
Research Question, Aims, and Objectives
The research study aims to analyze how a firm’s strategic business strategies impact a firm’s environmental sustainability objective. Thus, the primary study question is; how does a company’s business strategies affect the environment in which it operates?
- To analyze the relationship between a firm’s strategic goals and its sustainable environmental practices.
- To investigate how a firm can apply the resource-based view theory in coming up with sustainable environmental management strategies
- To examine the impact of environmental business strategies on a firm’s market performance and image.
Literature Review and Context
This research study will utilize the theory-testing approach. It will analyze the resource-based view theory to developing environmentally sustainable business objectives as part of an organization’s strategy. The resource-based view provides a platform for proper analysis of a firm’s capabilities and resources. Further, RBV provides the necessary guidance through which firms can be able to apply while handling the immediate challenges that confront firms while integrating sustainable environmental practices into their business strategies (Temminck, Mearns & Fruhen 2015).
Ideally, RBV helps understand the relationship between environmental strategy, a firm’s competitive advantage, as well as its developmental capabilities (Ghosal 2013). Further, RBV highlights two strategic capabilities that are likely to affect the environmental performance of the company. These are; the firm’s capacity to get into environmental collaborations and its capability to practice environmental actions (Rondinelli & London 2003).
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The research will be based on the context of environmental sustainability. Indeed, this is study does not analyze a firm’s business strategy in the general context of both the internal and external context but how they are specific to environmental consideration. In effect, the case study will be based in the manufacturing industry for some reasons:
(1) The participants will be the company’s top management as they are directly accountable for their business practices and the conduct of their employees towards promoting environmental sustainability (2) The manufacturing industry is presently being challenged for its practices towards ensuring a sustainable environment. It should be considered that analysis of the research question through narrowing down of manufacturing industries is instrumental in getting better results as these businesses are widely known for their pollutive environmental processes. Thus, an analysis of how they carry out their business operations and come up with their strategies are instrumental in getting first-hand information for the study.
The context of the study will only cover manufacturing industries operating within the United States. Limiting the scope of manufacturing companies to this geographical region implies consistencies in results are they are all governed by similar external factors and environmental laws.
This research will commence from a theoretical point through an analysis of the resource-based view and will extend to how firms present their business strategies in consideration of the environment. Data collection for the study will be facilitated by a qualitative study of the available literature about the sustainable behavior of manufacturing firms in the United States. Further, the application of the grounded theory will be useful in coming up with more information, where there is little information available on the manufacturing practices and behavior of the manufacturing firms versus environmental sustainability (Goulding 1998). Ideally, the application of this interpretation mechanism implies that the researcher will conduct inquiries through interacting with the principal persons necessary to facilitate the results of the study (Goulding 1998).
Eventually, the information attained will go through a systematic process, in which the interviewer will ensure to create meaning out of the information offered by the interviewees as regards their business strategies and how they conform to sustainable environmental behavior.
Further, the researcher’s position and bias will be declared within the research work along with any instances that may have impacted on the subject, and results of the study. The declaration is in line with Weber’s statement about subjectivity while researching humans, stating that the researcher cannot be alienated from the study (O’ Gorman, Lochrie & Watson 2014). In support, O’Gorman et al (2014) further assert that an evident relationship exists between the investigator and the subject, as well as the researcher and the one being researched.
Following qualitative data, the researcher will be able to develop a hypothesis for the study following an analysis of the available texts, after which validity will be established through an explanatory case. On the other hand, there will be limited use of quantitative data as this will only be applied for confirmation of the results, through analysis of the results obtained from the secondary data, the answers were given by the interviewees and the available environmental sustainability reports of the various companies to be researched. The reason there is a limited application of quantitative data is that there is limited time to carry out data analysis, thus, the researcher seeks to utilize a small sample size for the project.
The research study will take up several data collection methods. First, most of the data that will be applied to the study will mainly be on the internet. Various internet journals will be applied as a principal research basis for most of the secondary information applied to the research. Secondly, the data will be derived from the case study analysis which will be an interview of the key organizational management cognizant with the development of business strategies.
Ideally, structured interviews are chosen as a key information source for the study as it is one of the ways through which the researcher will be able to gain a deep insight into the practices of the organization, which would be quite unclear through the reliance of qualitative studies only. During the onset of the interview, descriptive information about the informant and the organization will be gathered. For verification of the information attained during this first interview phase additional information as obtained from the public reports, organizational report and their financial records will also be examined and verified.
However, the primary focus of the interview will be in the interviewee, mainly in their discussion of the organizational strategies and how these tie in with sustainable environmental objectives that the business has laid out if any. The design of the interview will follow the documentation of about twenty interview questions that will guide the interviewer on how to proceed. Most of the questions to be discussed will be paramount and compulsory for the researcher to ask to appropriately. The data when the time comes. However, to allow for proper data interpretation using hermeneutics, the interview questions will be semi-structured.
Further, such questions compel the interviewee to give an in-depth analysis of the topic they are discussing. In this case, the respondent will be subjected to discuss their overall business strategies before narrowing down to how they have tailored these to meet the environmental obligations for sustainable behavior. The study seeks to attain information derived from the personal experiences of the interviewee, how they view the business processes and strategies of their firm and how they believe this tie in with being environmentally sustainable.
Public sustainability reports of the chosen organizations will also be utilized as a source of information as they will provide the primary information on the conduct of these firms and their level of sustainable behavior. After all the information obtained during the interview complies, that data will be analyzed through hermeneutics.
After data collection, the collected information will be analyzed through hermeneutics, which is a form of theoretical analysis. This method is ideal to analyze the information obtained through the interviews. An applicable analysis that will be applied will follow the following outline:
Forming a total impression of the information obtained. In this step, most of the information obtained is all over and can be referred to as chaotic. Therefore, the researcher will consolidate this chaos and present them as key themes.
The second step will involve the identification of information and sort them out in given meaning units. Most of the collected information will be categories into the themes they represent, after which they will be presented in code form.
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Condensation. It is hard to interpret or understand the meaning of a given code if not explained. Therefore, this step seeks to ensure that the various codes have been translated to a particular meaning.
The next step is information synthesis. This not only involves give meaning to the codes bit also expanding the meanings given through offering various descriptions and key concepts after synthesis, but the information is also now fit to be subjected to matrix form, analysis, and assessment after which it can be presented in the analysis and findings section. However, the information will first go through the data triangulation phase in which the researcher will take their time to cross-examine and reference the obtained quantitative and qualitative information. This process enables the researcher to effectively compare the various findings and to confirm whether they correlate with the hypotheses. The aim of doing so is to ensure that the information provides the most reliable and unbiased. Thus, even when the final findings are presented, they will be consistent with the subject of the research.
The research study may face some ethical concerns.
First, secondary information will be a vital source of information. Application of secondary information from the internet like books and journals as an information source for the research implies bias as the researcher is likely to lean to the findings presented by the authors of the articles they will access.
Secondly, the participants of the research are top company management who are an essential source of information on the company’s business strategies. However, this may not be representative of what is on the ground owing to the need to paint the business better than what ideally happens.
Third, the internet is going to be used as the leading source for getting information. This implies that most information may be hard to access, with library passwords, poor connectivity issues, meaning that valuable information may be left out.
Fourth, the selection of the companies to use for the case study may result in bias. Ideally, there are many manufacturing companies in the United States, and not all of them will be included in the study. However, the few chosen may not represent the actual picture of what is happening on the ground.
Owing to the private nature of the information to be gathered, the interviewer will guarantee the participant’s that the information offered will be collected confidentially. This is to ensure that the competing companies are safeguarded from information loss. Thus, the utmost care and discretion will be applied to the interview process. In effect, all the information that will be collected during the interview process will be safely stored on a laptop with a password. Any print documents will further be stored securely and later disposed of after the research is completed.
Further, the researcher will ensure to exercise informed consent when dealing with all the interviewees, with the rights of the participants mentioned and adhered to. Thus, research approval forms for the interview by the rules of the university will be offered and disclosed to the participants in the research to ensure that they are aware of how the interviewer should conduct themselves during the process.
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