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From the captains of industry to the trustees of sustainability : the positioning of the large family-owned companies' core values regarding the Green Deal for Europe's decarbonization goals

By Boris Matijas

Abstract

Significant behavioral changes will need to be implemented to prevent the energy supply sector from tripling CO2 emissions by the midcentury. However, within the academic research, behavior changes remain primarily focused on the individual level, while the behavior of companies that are responsible for elevated greenhouse gas emissions falls behind. This master’s thesis analyses the core values of large European family-owned companies and cross-references them to their CO2 emissions and energy consumption reports. It does so by following the findings from environmental psychology, which indicate that on the individual level, the self-transcending values lead to better pro-environmental behavior. Additionally, the research analyses the corporate mission statements, the UN Paris Agreement pledge, and the companies' highest rankings officials' statements as the indicators of their corporate environmental beliefs. This is done within the frame of the Green Deal for Europe's aspiration to decarbonize the economy, and following the intention to define the large family-owned companies' initial stance regarding the governance that is required for achieving it. The results obtained indicate that, when compared to self-enhancing values, the self-transcending family-owned companies' core values lead to a greater tendency to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption. At the same time, these tend to a greater use of renewable energies. This indicates that the internalization of self-transcending values facilitates environmental governance and has the potential to steer the business strategy towards a shift in behavior that is needed to accomplish the decarbonization goals defined by the Green Deal for Europe. Additionally, the research shows differences in behavior among different combinations of self-transcending and self-enhancing values and indicates that different combinations provide elements for sustainability to be considered a competitive advantage. Family-owned companies are here considered decision-making units, which, like individuals, require incentives to behave pro-environmentally. The analysis of different positions within the environmentalities framework (political ecology) allows business and policy decision-makers to reflect on additional incentives to stimulate companies' environmental behavior and to expand the scope of incentives beyond the strictly economic ones. Understanding mutual initial stands and motivation is fundamental. Values, understood as desirable goals that motivate action, are the first step in the process of mapping out future relations to manage change towards a higher pro-environmental behavior among family-owned companies.When compared to self-enhancing values, the self-transcending family-owned companies' core values lead to a greater tendency to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption. At the same time, these tend to a greater use of renewable energies. This indicates that the internalization of self-transcending values facilitates environmental governance and has the potential to steer the business strategy towards a shift in behavior that is needed to accomplish the decarbonization goals defined by the Green Deal for Europe

Topics: core values, family-owned companies, Green Deal for Europe, environmental psychology, political ecology, environmental governmentality, sustainability science, pro-environmental behavior, Social Sciences
Publisher: Lunds universitet/LUCSUS
Year: 2020
OAI identifier: oai:lup-student-papers.lub.lu.se:9012202
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