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Environmental responsibility (ER), as a major aspect of corporate social responsibility, is an important issue for organizations in the sport industry as it is for all other organizations. This paper presents three reasons why sport industry firms should embrace environmental responsibility as a management competency. The first is the ethical reason, which consists of two main considerations and applies not just to firms in the sport industry but to all organizations. The second reason pertains specifically to sport organizations and invokes their unique relationship to their customers. The third reason is that embracing ER can lead to economic benefits for the organization. Two main aspects of this advantage –cost savings due to more efficient resource usage and enhanced image– are discussed.
Marilou Ioakimidis
, Apostolos Stergioulas
Alexandra Tripolitsioti
Department of Economics, University of Athens, Greece
Department of Sport Management, University of Peloponnese,
Youth & Sport Organization, Municipality of Athens, Greece
Environmental responsibility (ER), as a major aspect of
corporate social responsibility, is an important issue for
organizations in the sport industry as it is for all other
organizations. This paper presents three reasons why sport
industry firms should embrace environmental responsibility
as a management competency. The first is the ethical
reason, which consists of two main considerations and
applies not just to firms in the sport industry but to all
organizations. The second reason pertains specifically to
sport organizations and invokes their unique relationship to
their customers. The third reason is that embracing ER
can lead to economic benefits for the organization. Two
main aspects of this advantage –cost savings due to more
efficient resource usage and enhanced image– are discussed.
Key Words:
Social Corporate Responsibility, Sport Industry,
Management competency.
Sport Management
International Journal
SMIJ – VOL. 2, Number 1 – 2, 2006
Scientific Forum in
Sport Management
Environmental resposibility in the sport industry:
Why it makes sense
In recent years, the view that Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR) is an appropriate competency for business organizations
has strengthened (e.g., Hopkins, 2003; Maignan & Ralston,
2002; Medhurst & Richards, 2003; Whitehouse, 2006).
However, despite the increasing concern with CSR among
both businesses and academicians, relatively little in the
literature has focused specifically on CSR within the area
of Sport Management. Notable exceptions include Bradish
(2006), Chernushenko (2001), and Hums, Barr, and Guillion
Certainly, business organizations in the sport industry
cannot be excepted from the conversation about CSR.
Like all other types of enterprise, those with sport as their
main focus are open systems. As such, they have relations
with numerous stakeholder groups inside and outside the
organization, operate within particular localities, and make
use of a variety of resources. Hums et al. (1999) recognized
this relevance by identifying issues related to social
responsibility that confront managers in each of five major
areas of the sport industry – professional sport, inter-
collegiate sport, health and fitness, recreational sport, and
facility management.
One of the most important aspects of CSR is the idea
that business organizations have responsibilities to the
natural environment (Werhane and Freeman, 1999; Wood,
1991). Such environmental responsibilities are often discussed
under the heading of Corporate Sustainability (CS). However,
as evidenced by presentations at the 2002 Corporate
Sustainability Conference in Rotterdam, CS is evolving into
a broader concept which, like CSR, embraces social issues
(Van Marrewijk, 2003a). Thus, for the sake of clarity, in
this paper the notion of environmental responsibility will be
termed simply as that (or ER for short).
The fact that ER has become an important consideration
for businesses is reflected in findings by Maignan and
Ralston (2002), who examined the Web sites of large
companies in four countries, the Netherlands, France, the
United Kingdom, and the United States. The researchers
found that on the sites examined, 78.8% of the UK firms,
70.8% of the Dutch firms, 62.1% of the French firms, and
47.1% of the U.S. firms mentioned the environment as a
concern of the firm. Though the researchers did not in-
vestigate how adequately the companies’ actions matched
Environmental resposibility in the sport industry:
Why it makes sense
104 SMIJ – VOL. 2, Number 1 2, 2006
their communications, the findings showed that many large
companies, especially in Europe, claim to take ER seriously.
Like the broader notion of CSR, environmental responsibility
is also an important issue for organizations in the sport
industry. Hums et al. (1999) recognized this by pointing out
that environmental issues are proper concerns for managers
in the area of Recreational Sports Management. This is
especially obvious for organizations whose main business
revolves around one or another outdoor sport which makes
essential use of the natural environment. Whether the
recreational sport enterprise is relatively large, such as a
ski resort or a golf course, or small, such as a scuba diving
firm, it is incumbent on sport businesses that depend on
the natural environment to be good stewards of that environ-
ment. Recognition of the importance of sound environmental
stewardship in recreational sport is reflected in initiatives
such as
Course Management Best Practices Guidelines
(R&A, 2006), the result of a collaboration between the
Royal & Ancient Golf Club of the U.K. and the European
Golf Association, and
Sustainable Slopes
(NSAA, 2006)
produced by the National Ski Areas Association headquartered
in the U.S.
But the importance of environmental issues for the sport
industry goes beyond recreational sport. Every organization
in every sector of the industry is necessarily embedded
within a natural and a human-made environment from
which the organization derives inputs and creates outputs.
The nature and volume of these inputs, and perhaps
especially the outputs, cannot help but have an effect on
the natural environment. Moreover, if the organization does
not embrace its environmental responsibilities, this effect
may have a decidedly detrimental effect on that environment.
Thus, ER can be seen as a fundamental aspect of social
responsibility that is relevant not only to recreational sport
organizations, but throughout the sport industry.
This relevance raises a number of critical questions for
owners and managers of sport industry firms. They are the
same questions being asked by countless other business
organizations. What exactly are our environmental
responsibilities? Just what measures should the orga-
nization take to lighten our environmental footprint? And
–very important– why? Why should our organization do
more in the way of supporting environmental sustainability
Environmental resposibility in the sport industry:
Why it makes sense
than it is legally mandated? How much the fulfillment of
our environmental responsibilities, whatever they may be,
is supposed to relate to our primary purpose of creating
value for our owners?
These are difficult questions for any organization to
answer, and it is as difficult if its main business is oriented
toward sport. In the end, they are questions that can be
fully answered only through the leadership of owners and
managers who have intimate knowledge of their business
and are informed by detailed knowledge of the environmen-
tal options available to them. However, several important
considerations can be offered to lay a partial groundwork
for developing those answers. In particular, three funda-
mental replies to that all-important question of why a sport
industry firm should take significant measures toward
environmental sustainability can be offered:
ñ First, as it is becoming increasingly evident, it is in
everyone’s interest for all businesses, in every industry,
to make environmental sustainability a management
competency and an aspect of organizational excellence.
ñ Second, by taking their environmental responsibilities
seriously, organizations in the sport industry are uniquely
positioned to communicate the value of environmental
sustainability to large numbers of people.
ñ Third, fulfilling its environmental responsibilities can help
the firm gain a competitive edge and create greater
value for its owners.
The following three sections of the paper will elaborate
on these basic answers to the question of why sport industry
firms should embrace ER as a management competency.
Reason 1: The ethical reason
The ethical argument for the claim that sport management
firms should become environmental champions is one
which most of us are familiar with. The argument stands
on two legs. The first leg is simply this: the mental model
which views profit and growth as the only legitimate
objectives of business has, as its logical conclusion, en-
vironmental disaster. If every business organization were
Environmental resposibility in the sport industry:
Why it makes sense
106 SMIJ – VOL. 2, Number 1 2, 2006
to continue to act according to that model, the disturbingly
rapid deterioration of the physical environment that we
have witnessed over the past several decades would
continue at breakneck speed. Forest degradation, the near
elimination of a number of fisheries, air pollution, ocean
and beach pollution, mercury poisoning, and global warming
are only among the most well known of a long, sad litany
of environmental problems. The result of failing to become
good stewards of the environment would be an in-
creasingly polluted, unhealthy, dangerous, ugly, and un-
predictable environment – for us, our neighbors, our
children, and their children. And this is unacceptable.
Moreover, the mental model is self-contradictory. If profit
and growth at all costs really were the only legitimate
objectives of business, then the mental model would
eventually defeat itself. As a number of writers have pointed
out recently (e.g., Adolphson, 2004; Hawken, Lovins, &
Lovins, 1999; Odum, 1996; Prugh, 1999), to not take
Nature into account in our business plans and processes is
economically disastrous. As these and other writers have
clearly recognized, Nature is the foundation of all economic
wealth. Those who do not take care of that foundation will
eventually find it unable to support them.
The second arm of the ethical argument is the
following. Given that we know, as we certainly do, that if
no business firm takes ER seriously, then we –and our
descendants– will pay a terrible price, then for an indi-
vidual firm not to do its part in the effort is unconscionable.
Certainly a firm’s directors might surmise that by letting
other businesses do all the work of maintaining proper
environmental accounts, the firm would gain a competitive
advantage. But even if this were true –and an argument
will be given later in the paper that it need not be true–
opting out of what other businesses embrace as their
environmental responsibility is fundamentally unjust. For-
tunately, the majority of business owners and managers
are able to reflect carefully on the manifold justifications
for taking ER seriously, and they have the foresight and
imagination to see what must be done by all together. Not
to do what needs to be done is not a failure of ethical
reasoning or moral imagination according Al Gini (2006),
co-founder of the
Journal of Business Ethics,
but a failure
of will.
Environmental resposibility in the sport industry:
Why it makes sense
Reason 2: Sport organizations have a unique opportunity
to be leaders in ER
The argument just presented for taking ER seriously
was not formulated especially for organizations in the sport
industry. The ethical reasons are sound for any business,
large or small, in any industry. But the second reason why
sport-centered organizations should embrace ER is targeted
specifically to them, and it rests on their unique nature.
That unique nature is a common thread that runs through
the many varieties of business in the sport industry – the
fact that sport firms are distinguished from other business
entities by the kind of services they provide and their
relationships to their customers. Many businesses, perhaps
especially manufacturing firms, have a large customer base
but little direct contact with customers. Other businesses
may have direct contact, but their customer base is re-
latively small and unchanging. But sport enterprises
generally have both – direct contact with their customers,
and a continuous, often sizeable inflow of customers that
purchase the firm’s services. Whether the organization’s
business consists of a professional sport team, a health
and fitness club, a recreational sport business such as a
skating rink or a mountain biking venue, or a large sports
facility, in most cases the firm deals directly with a more or
less steady stream –and often quite a large one– of
This provides sport organizations with an opportunity
which is unavailable to many other kinds of business. By
making ER a management competency and taking a
strong stand in favor of environmental sustainability, the
organization has the opportunity to multiply its environ-
mental efforts by transmitting ER as a value to its
customers. The firm need not do this in a heavy-handed
way. Simply by letting its customers know that it is
committed to the goal of environmental sustainability and it
is undertaking substantial efforts to attain that objective,
the organization will tend to strengthen the ideal of caring
for the environment in customers’ minds. This is important
because environmental responsibility is not just an issue for
organizations; it is also a job for individuals and families.
Whatever makes it more likely for those fundamental social
units to increase their environmentally responsible behavior
Environmental resposibility in the sport industry:
Why it makes sense
108 SMIJ – VOL. 2, Number 1 2, 2006
is a plus, and by modeling responsible environmental
behavior, the organization helps to make that behavior
more likely.
It might be overly optimistic to suppose that by modeling
sound environmental stewardship a sport organization can
foster a significant difference in most of their customers’
environmental behavior. Indeed, the degree of difference
that it would make would be an excellent project for future
research. However, if even a few customers are impressed
by the organization’s commitment to environmental sustainability
and embrace the ideal more strongly than before, then the
organization’s efforts have been multiplied by some factor.
Most sport organizations are, by their nature, uniquely
positioned to have such a positive effect.
Reason 3: Environmental sense makes economic sense
The third reason for sport management firms to strongly
embrace ER as a management competency is one that
should be dear to the heart of any owner or sport manager:
it can increase the firm’s profitability. This claim is based
on two main considerations. First, many of the actions
which the firm can take to better fulfill its environmental
responsibilities are actually less expensive than doing
things the «old» way. Second, by strongly embracing the
notion of ER and clearly communicating its stance to
actual and potential customers, the firm can increase the
value of its image and its brand, while making its services
more attractive. Together, the two considerations can
provide a distinct competitive advantage for the sport
management firm. Let us take these advantages in order.
Environmental Initiatives Can Be Savings
A growing literature champions the view that what
makes sense environmentally for companies can also make
good economic sense (e.g., Adolphson, 2004; Hawken,
Lovins, & Lovins, 1999). A major way in which environ-
mentally friendly measures can add to the company’s
Environmental resposibility in the sport industry:
Why it makes sense
bottom line is through decreasing waste. Lovins, Lovins, &
Hawken (1999) furnish a plethora of relevant examples.
For instance, over a six-week period, Dow Chemical Europe
reduced paper usage by 30% in its Swiss headquarters by
discouraging the proliferation of unneeded information. At
the same time, labor productivity increased because
people were reading less unnecessary information. Other
cost- and resource-saving examples reported by Lovins et
al. include copying only on both sides of a paper, more
efficient use of wood fiber, and recycling. Indeed, measures
as simple as improving insulation and managing thermostat
settings can save significant energy – and thus money.
In the very short term, each specific Corporate Environ-
mental Responsibility (CER) measure may lead to only
small savings for the environment and the company; however,
a comprehensive CER program that addresses a variety of
environmental issues can, over time, result in substantial
savings for the company while significantly lessening the
cost to the environment of doing business. Lovins et al.
(1999) reported that Johnson & Johnson Company saved
$2.8 million during a 30-month campaign of reducing paper
and packaging waste, while saving the equivalent of 330
annual acres of trees.
A first step the sport organization can take to determine
where energy and other resources can be used more
efficiently and waste reduced is to determine inputs and
outputs of all business processes. Green & Gold (1999), in
an environmental management and monitoring report for
large sporting events and facilities, which was prepared for
Sport Canada, list areas of environmental concern that are
relevant to many kinds of sport organization. Are there im-
provements that can be made in the company’s practices
insofar as they affect nearby air, water, and land? How
can current energy and waste management strategies be
improved? Are facilities and transportation being managed
in the most environmentally responsible ways? Each of
these areas can be evaluated with an eye toward both
environmental sustainability and how to more efficiently
use resources and decrease waste.
Not every environmental initiative will lead to immediate
savings. And of course economic payoff should not be the
sole factor in deciding whether to implement environmental
initiatives. However, many environmentally friendly endeavors
Environmental resposibility in the sport industry:
Why it makes sense
110 SMIJ – VOL. 2, Number 1 2, 2006
can also be justified on the basis of economic value to the
business either in the short or the long term. To determine
such win-win initiatives, what is needed is knowledge.
There is a burgeoning wealth of information about the
intersection of business and environmental sustainability in
books, on the Internet, and in journals such as
and Environment,
Journal of Environment and Develop-
and the
Journal of Environmental Planning and Man-
In the light of this information, the traditional
notion that it is always too costly to embrace ER beyond
government mandates is losing ground. In relation to major
sport events, Green & Gold (1999) maintained that the
managerial view that environmental initiatives for large
sporting events are always expensive is false. «Scores of
organisations are proving that good environmental
management is either revenue neutral or ultimately a
source of savings or new opportunities» (p. 15). Much the
same can be said for the sport industry overall.
Practicing ER Can Enhance Reputation
A second economic benefit that can accrue to sport
organizations by making ER a management competency is
an improved reputation in the eyes of customers. According
to Maignan and Ralston (2002), recent research suggests
that embracing CSR may be an effective way for firms to
enhance their image among stakeholders. Argenti, Drucken-
miller, & Novelli (2003) agree, holding that CSR can
enhance corporate brand image. Since environmental
responsibility is one main aspect of social responsibility, it
follows that much the same can be said for firms that
embrace ER. By acting in an environmentally responsible
way, the organization can be seen as being, in a sense, a
sponsor of the natural environment. Given the view that
practicing CSR –and thus ER– is a form of cause-related
marketing (Irwin, Lachowetz, Cornwell, & Clark, 2003),
making ER an organizational cause can be a useful
marketing tool for sport organizations.
In particular, several of the benefits cited by Brown
(2000) as being sought by Olympic sponsors can be seen
as benefits that can accrue to firms that «sponsor» en-
vironmental sustainability. These include:
Environmental resposibility in the sport industry:
Why it makes sense
ñ Image enhancement through association with an im-
portant cause
ñ Enhanced awareness of the firm and its services
ñ Differentiation from competitors
ñ Connecting to a market niche (presumably quite large)
concerned with environmental issues
ñ Enhancement of the firm’s reputation for being socially
A condition for this tool to be effective is for management
to communicate its environmental efforts to customers. It
is important that such promotion not be seen as self-ag-
grandizing, for there is evidence that information com-
municated by organizations about their environmental
performance and other CSR initiatives is sometimes
discounted by the public (Dando & Swift, 2002, as reported
by Van Marrewijk, 2003b). While noting the value of a
media strategy for communicating environmental efforts,
Green & Gold (1999) emphasized the importance of being
open and honest about those efforts. Communicating to
the media and customers the specific actions that the
organization is taking to fulfill its environmental responsibilities,
without exaggeration, is perhaps the best strategy.
Trust is the key. Siltaoja (2006) found that the most
significant factor affecting company reputation is trust. One
aspect of this is goodwill trust, which occurs when the
company does more than it is formally required. By going
beyond what is legally mandated, the sport organization
can build significant goodwill by publicizing its efforts and
the reasons behind them in a straightforward manner.
In sum, environmental responsibility is as important for
sport-industry enterprises, as it is for all organizations. This
paper has highlighted three excellent reasons why sport
firms should seriously consider embracing ER. First, and
perhaps foremost, we are at a moment in history when
protecting a natural environment that faces severe human-
caused problems is every individual’s and every organization’s
job. Furthermore, sport firms are in a position to be leaders
in promulgating ER by modeling the ideal of environmental
Environmental resposibility in the sport industry:
Why it makes sense
112 SMIJ – VOL. 2, Number 1 2, 2006
sustainability for their customers. Finally, and very important,
by fulfilling their environmental responsibilities, sport or-
ganizations can, in many instances, create opportunities
for savings while enhancing their image and their brand.
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Address for correspondence:
Marilou Ioakimidis
University of Athens
Department of Economic
5 Thissiou Str.,
17455 Athens,
Environmental resposibility in the sport industry:
Why it makes sense
... Environmental social responsibility (ESR) encompasses the concepts of greening and sustainability in the natural environment and is an important CSR concept that businesses should be responsible for. 71 However, it is a controversial topic for some professional sports organizations as they attempt to determine the best way to implement ESR practices within their existing strategies to benefit the organization rather than adopt these concepts simply to cave in to societal pressure or business ethics 72 . But environmental issues are already embedded in many outdoor sports businesses such as ski resorts, golf courses, scuba diving firms, and the like that rely on the natural environment to successfully operate. ...
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Marketing communications utilizing a non-profit cause (i.e., the sponsorship of a nonprofit cause) have emerged as a mainstream practice as practitioners respond to rising consumer expectations of corporate social responsibility (CSRI. The increasing popularity of cause-related marketing programs (CRMPS) can be attributed to the Integration of sponsorship in many organizations' sport marketing strategy. The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes, beliefs, and purchase intentions of consumers exposed to a firm's sponsorship of a sporting event associated with a non-profit organization. A survey instrument was developed by a panel of experts, pre-tested, revised, and completed by (442 event spectators. Results suggested consumers' attitudes, beliefs, and purchase intentions toward the sponsoring company were positively impacted by the firm's involvement with cause-related marketing.
In a series of brief chapters, Al Gini lays out ideas for 'stepping out of the shadow of the self' - an argument for stopping thinking of yourself as the centre of the universe. It's hard to be good, he explains, until we realize that being good only has meaning in relation to other people. Ideas of justice, fairness, and ethical behavior are just that - abstract ideas - until they are put into action with regard to people outside ourselves. We may worry too much about good versus evil - big concepts that give us plenty of room to sit on the right side of the equation, he argues. Instead, we need to be thinking about how being good involves an active relationship toward others. Being good all by yourself may not be good enough. This warm and generous book is for anyone who wants to know how to use ethical thinking as way to live, work, and be with others.
This article defines corporate social performance (CSP) and reformulates the CSP model to build a coherent, integrative framework for business and society research. Principles of social responsibility are framed at the institutional, organizational, and individual levels; processes of social responsiveness are shown to be environmental assessment, stakeholder management, and issues management; and outcomes of CSP are posed as social impacts, programs, and policies. Rethinking CSP in this manner points to vital research questions that have not yet been addressed.
This paper introduces the important concept of a biophysical perspective on economics into the business ethics literature. The biophysical perspective recognizes that ecological processes determine what can be done in an economy and how best to do it. A biophysical perspective places the economic system into a larger context of the ecologic system. This changes the perception of ethical issues by identifying a larger scope of management decisions. The paper examines the changing ethical landscape in such issues as biotechnology, planned obsolescence, productivity, and international trade. The paper also examines the shift in mindset associated with the shift in economic framework. It draws on the literature on cognitive structures and moral imagination to show this new perspective can actually raise the bar for ethical decision-making and behavior. The pattern is that the ethical behavior associated with a biophysical economic framework has a greater scope of responsibility with the benefit that the required ethical behavior leads to better long-term decision making.
This paper offers an evaluation of corporate policy and practice in respect of corporate social responsibility (CSR) deriving from an analysis of qualitative data, obtained during semi-structured interviews with the representatives of 16 companies from a variety of UK sectors including retail, mining, financial services and mobile telephony. The findings of the empirical survey are presented in five sections that trace chronologically the process of CSR policy development. The first identifies the meaning attributed to CSR by the respondent companies followed in the second section by the factors that are driving them to implement the CSR agenda. The third examines the use of the language of CSR and the concept’s role as either a substantive concept or simple label. The fourth identifies the criteria used for determining CSR policies and the objectives underlying them. The fifth and final section offers an analysis of the respondents’ predictions as to the future development of CSR. On the basis of the findings of the survey, this paper argues that, despite genuine attempts on the part of those responsible for CSR policy development to address stakeholder concerns, the context within which CSR has been implemented hinders its potential to offer stakeholders sufficient information by which to evaluate corporate performance in respect of CSR and the ability of CSR to operate as a meaningful and systematic constraint on corporate behaviour.