Denial, described by the Kubler-Ross curve as “looking for evidence that it isn’t true” (Kübler-Ross, 1969), is a key barrier to change for reducing negative corporate environmental impacts. Climate change denial has been highly organised by fossil fuel corporations establishing powerful allies in industry groups to dismiss global warming evidence. It is paramount this denial is overcome and engagement improved as Pfeffer writes “it is the will which often seems to be missing” rather than the skill (Pfeffer, 1992), demonstrating how if change is willing to be made, it can be made.
To tackle this a greater sense of urgency is required, as introduced in Kotter’s 8 step process, to create the “climate for change” (Kotter, 1996) as this denial is delaying corporations adopting strategies to reduce carbon emissions, which may make future uncontrollable changes harder to adapt to. For example with no preparation, introduction of a new environmental law will force transformational change, but if corporation change begins now an incremental approach less likely to cause friction can occur, so should be preferred.
Despite this, incremental change can also cause problems if not conducted thoroughly as seen by criticisms of Kotter’s 8 step process. Corporations may not engage in the “Making it Stick” (Kotter, 1996) step if they are using strategies such as ‘green’ products to establish “positive self-images” (Wright and Nyberg, 2015) rather than to truly reduce their climate impact, which as a result can “obstruct…more radical alternatives” (Wright and Nyberg, 2015). In reality, I believe Kotter’s 8 steps should be cyclical as adaptations are made to unforeseen future global changes. More education for corporations is required to make this successful through increasing urgency and will for change, that will both eradicate imminent risks to the corporation and protect the environment.
Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On Death and Dying. Great Britain: Routledge.
Pfeffer, J. (1992). Managing with power: Poltiics and influence in organizations. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Cambridge MA: Harvard Business Press.
Wright, C. and Nyberg, D. (2015). Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.
Featured Image: Williams, D. (2009). McDonald’s Branding – suspiciously healthy! Retrieved October 14, 2016, from http://blog.print-print.co.uk/mcdonalds-branding-suspiciously-healthy/