Corporate environmental policy and the ethical values of individual managers: Exploring the connection at Royal Dutch Shell

Pulaj, Stela (2009) Corporate environmental policy and the ethical values of individual managers: Exploring the connection at Royal Dutch Shell. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The aim of this research is to develop an analytical framework, drawing on appropriate ethical theories that will facilitate exploration of the perceptions, beliefs, and feelings that corporate managers have toward corporate environmental responsibility (CER). It will enable the identification of the relationship, if any, between espoused corporate environmental policy of organisations, and the ethical values of the managers they employ.
Environmental crisis is a complex problem raising issues across many disciplines. Ethics play a vital role in addressing the problem, acting as a filter to determine the 'consequences' of organisational actions and help to ensure that these actions do not compromise nature's condition. The framework developed has two dimensions; the first across anthropocentric and eco-centric ethics; the second ranging from moral minimum to moral maximum responsibility and is used as a tool for analysing the individual managers' positions toward CER and provides a mean for mapping Shell's espoused approach to CER.
The research draws from a single in-depth case study, the analysis of Petrochemical giant Shell, so as to gain a comprehensive understanding of an organisation that is a major player in the CER debate. In-depth interviews are used to secure rich data.
The study concludes that while the personal values of Shell's managers were congruent with Shell's CER policy, sharing the same anthropocentric viewpoint, there is a difference in terms of the extent of responsibility. For Shell, economic performance is more essential, while the majority of the participants emphasised that the primary goal of the company should be environmental preservation. Due to the hierarchal governance structure of the organisation, the strength of the individual managers' opinions does not seem to be a significant factor in driving policy and surpassing the economic imperative of the company.

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