The Greening of Capitalism

John A. Mathews*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Global companies have been the principal beneficiaries of a "business as usual" model of industrial expansion, with its reliance on low-cost fossil fuels and resource extraction. Now as the pressures to green the industrial model are being felt, global companies will likewise turn out to be the principal drivers of the changes involved, either voluntarily or under duress. Organization and structure are proving to be important. Capitalism will be greened not one company at a time (via purported corporate social responsibility) but by entire value chains and clusters moving to green their resources, activities, and products. In light of the neo-Schumpeterian theory of techno-economic paradigm shifts, the greening of industrial capitalism is likely to be led by the most recent of the newly industrialized powers, namely by Chinese corporations, since China has not only the most serious backlog of environmental problems to deal with but also the state capacity to do something about them. In this chapter it is argued that the green shoots of a sustainable industrial model will grow through propagation via value chains within the matrix of the incumbent system, driven by profit-seeking firms working together in blocs, value chains, and what Alderson called transvections. The chapter discusses the major features of the adjustments underway, and the potential for Olsonian obstruction by vested interests to delay the needed transition away from business as usual. This edition first published 2013

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Global Companies
EditorsJohn Mikler, John A. Mathews
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781118326152, 1118326156, 9781118326145, 1118326148
ISBN (Print)9780470673232
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2013

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