Field evolution as a social process. Dutch chemical industry and environmental impact, 1990-2012

Frank Boons, Wouter Spekkink

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Corporate environmentalism has been theorized to be a by-product of intra- firm capabilities and the immediate institutional context of firms. Yet the wider societal dynamics concerning ecological impact as theorized by environmental sociologists have not yet been taken into account. In this paper we assess the implications of one such theory, Ecological Modernization Theory (EMT). We assess the changes it predicts in terms of strategic action fields, which are constituted by the multitude of issues that relate to environmental impact of firms. Empirically, we look at the Dutch chemical industry during the period 1990-2012, and select three core themes that constituted the strategic action field: (1) contestation of chlorine-based production processes, (2) internalization of environmental responsibility, and (3) build-up of a bio-based economy. In doing so, we pursue a second aim, which is to advance an innovative methodology that allow us to analyse change in strategic action fields as a social process. We find some support for EMT, and are able to theorize more specifically about types of processes within strategic action fields, and the interrelatedness of such fields.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Best paper Proceedings
Subtitle of host publicationAcademy of Management
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Consumption Institute


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