Title: Industrial ecology as an ecological model for business: diversity and firm survival

Authors: Paul Nieuwenhuis; Catrin Lammgård

Addresses: Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Aberconway Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff CF10 3EU, Wales, UK ' School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, P.O. Box 600, SE-405 30 Göteborg, Sweden

Abstract: Krebs (2008) suggests that an ecological worldview should displace the economic worldview. This means business could increasingly be analysed from an ecological perspective. Some moves in this direction have been made, but one area so far left unexplored is the question of whether the ecosystem metaphor allows a comparison between the way ecosystems change over time and the way human economic entities change and adapt over time. This paper considers this issue at the level of the firm. It is found that firms survive either because they are 'resistant' to change due to the inherently sustainable nature of their activities, or because they have shown 'resilience' in that they have been able to adapt over time to changing environmental conditions by sometimes radical shifts in product offerings, activities and business models, by drawing on apparently less successful products or activities already present in some form within its portfolio; thereby carrying apparent redundancy in their operation.

Keywords: biomimicry; diversity; business longevity; industrial ecology; paper and pulp industry; automobile industry; ecological models; business models; diversity; firm survival; automotive firms; sustainability; sustainable development; firm resilience.

DOI: 10.1504/PIE.2013.060672

Progress in Industrial Ecology, An International Journal, 2013 Vol.8 No.3, pp.189 - 204

Available online: 24 Apr 2014 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article