MBA Research

Trend #30: Increased Environmental Government Regulations

Government oversight, in the form of environmental regulations, has the potential to make our world cleaner and greener.  The innovation and new technologies necessary to meet the requirements of the regulations can also stimulate our economy in the form of new businesses.  However, existing businesses must still figure out how to comply with the regulations and meet stakeholder financial expectations simultaneously.  This month’s trend looks at how businesses are being affected, and how their processes are changing in response to increased environmental government regulations.

Globalization has led to an increase in consumer demand for products, but has also placed stress on the environment due to increased production, and transportation of goods. As consumer demands increase, so do national and international regulations governing how businesses produce, package, transport goods, and dispose of waste. As a result of these regulations, businesses modify their processes, products, construction materials, physical layouts and designs, product packaging, and supply chains, etc. While these changes may result in increased efficiencies, they can also mean added costs and production times which can strain some organizations.  

The cost of compliance affects businesses differently. Small businesses often take the hardest hit since often there is less room for absorption of compliance costs and fewer staffing resources to help interpret regulations. For larger companies, the costs may be easier to absorb, but managing compliance in a widespread business environment with multiple partners and delivery channels can prove challenging.

Many business owners are implementing environmental management systems (EMS) in an effort to meet or exceed government regulations. The implementation of an EMS can help foster the deep understanding of government regulations necessary for compliance. An EMS can also help employees become more aware of environmental issues, and help convince consumers that they are purchasing goods and products from a green company.  

Businesses successful in compliance report a number of helpful strategies including knowledge of regulations and a commitment to compliance, careful selection of suppliers and partners who are also committed to compliance, flexibility and readiness to adjust processes, transparency, and willingness to experiment and innovate. 

Implications for Students

Students should have some exposure to environmental threats posed by products and businesses as well as the legislation enacted to address those concerns such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Farm Bill, etc. Instructors need to address the ways that these regulations impact businesses differently based on the type of business and its products and processes. To put these differences in context, teachers can have students interact with their business mentors/partners to determine regulatory impact on local businesses.  

Educators can help students understand the importance of compliance by looking at case examples of how companies fulfill the regulations. Presenting case studies about disasters, both manufactured and natural which have had far reaching, negative consequences can be helpful as well. Looking at how compliance helps or hurts businesses in the short and long-term will assist students as they learn to look at success as a process rather than just a moment-in-time.