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Clarke: Transformation for environmental sustainability

Company name

Chris Laszlo, Katley McCabe, Eric Ahearn and Indrajeet Ghatge

Richard Ivey School of Business

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Clarke: Transformation for environmental sustainability

Year published 

Last year covered in case 

A company seen as having a core business that is environmentally harmful by its very nature — in this case selling pesticides — faces unique challenges in its transformation to a sustainable enterprise. Even when innovation leads to new green products, processes, technologies and business models, the leadership of the company must cope with the daunting task of engaging employees and customers in the idea that green can be effective and profitable. 

The objective of this case is to provide students with an idea of the difficulty involved in transforming a company from an environmentally unfriendly business — in this case, selling pesticides — to an environmentally sustainable services company. The focus is on the challenges involved in acquiring the necessary buy-in from employees and customers who are skeptical about environmental sustainability as a potential driver of business strategy. Their resistance to change is evident. The case serves as an example of how industry leaders need to take into consideration a myriad set of factors in any attempt to shift paradigms regarding environmental performance. What strategy works well for one type of customer may not necessarily work for another. The analysis and development of the case are ideal for students taking Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Innovation classes. Courses that touch on topics of Leadership and Change Management will also find it useful. Finally, any class that discusses the topic of Sustainability or Sustainable Businesses will find that it provides valuable insights into the challenges of employee support and customer adoption for greener initiatives.

Teaching note

  • N/A 

Key Management Reading

  • Ambec, S. & Lanoie, P. (2008). Does it pay to be green? A systematic overview. Academy of Management Perspectives. 45-62
  • Reinhardt, F. (1999). Bringing the Environment Down to Earth. Harvard Business Review. July; 149-157 

Other Readings

  • N/A

Audio/Visual Material

  • N/A

Discussion Questions

  • N/A

Green Chemistry Principle

  • Principle 1 Prevention
  • Principle 4 Designing Safer Chemicals 
  • Principle 6 Design for Energy Efficiency

Agriculture and Agrochemicals

Teaching Topic
Business-Government relations
Corporate citizenship
Customer relations
Environmental issues
Social change
Social marketing
Social need as a business opportunity
Stakeholder relationships

Management Discipline
Business, Government and Society
Organizational behaviour

Business Logic
Better access to certain markets
Differentiating products
Managing environmental risks
Reduced Cost
Relations with external stakeholders

Environmental Issue
Climate change
U.S. Presidential Green Chemistry Award
Water pollution

North America

Self Identified as Green Chemistry?

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