Business and society in the anthropocene

Paul Shrivastava, Laszlo Zsolnai

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


This chapter aims to help redirect Business and Society (BAS) scholarship to embrace the unprecedented challenges of the Anthropocene era including climate collapse and ecological breakdown. The existential risk presented by the new reality of the Anthropocene requires a radical rethinking of the purpose of business and its dominating working models. This chapter discusses the main problems of efficiency and growth and shows that business efficiency often results in aggregate ecological overshot. It is argued with Herman Daly that frugality, that is, substantial reduction of the material throughput, should precede business efficiency for achieving ecological sustainability. This chapter suggests new directions for BAS scholarship by highlighting three major issues, namely the scale of business activities relative to the ecosystem of the planet, short termism that is the discrepancy between the time horizon of business decisions and that of ecological processes, and inequality which is the result of current business models that are all about accumulation of wealth and not paying enough attention to distribution of wealth. The chapter concludes that the Anthropocene era represents a clear disjuncture and discontinuity from the past and business needs to find a new realignment to achieve a sustainable world. That realignment requires a drastic modification of business-nature relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSustainability
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781838673734
ISBN (Print)9781838673758
StatePublished - Jun 15 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting

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