Business is often viewed as a main culprit for environmental deterioration and thus as a major cause
for environmental change, due to pollution impacts or the over-abstraction and exploitation of
environmental resources in response to short-termed profit-maximizing interests.
At the same time, business is increasingly affected by environmental change as well and thus faced
with the need to develop strategies to cope and adapt. A much quoted example in this regard is the
increasing scarcity of production-relevant resources, such as water in case of the food and beverage
This not only highlights the dependence of economic viability and stability on sound and resilient
ecosystems, but also gives rise to the question of how the potentially growing awareness of business’
vulnerability to environmental change can be used in order to change corporate motivational
patterns, leading to more responsible and sustainable business practices.
This question is of particular interest in countries with weak regulatory capacities, as government
might not be in a position to provide sufficient regulatory incentives. Evidence from South African
business sectors indicates that firms’ self motivation to engage in sustainable practices can be
leveraged and modulated by governmental as well as other actors through engaging governance
modes to yield sustainable outcomes. The results however also convey necessary conditions in terms
of government will and capacity, particularly with regards to skills required for engaging a broad
range of societal actors. The degree to which business behaviour can be transformed crucially
depends on these factors particularly at the local governance level.
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