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  • 2019finkephd

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How companies respond to climate change: a network approach

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2019
Number of pages346
Awarding Institution
Place of PublicationLancaster
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish


This thesis studies the phenomenon of how companies respond to climate change. I use business responses to climate change as an example to examine the process through which managers assess and address externally generated pressures. Previous research on how companies respond to climate change is commonly limited by the assumption that companies function as isolated units independent of their wider network of business relationships. In this study, I proceed from the perspective that companies are, in fact, influenced by the interactions occurring as a result of continuous give-and-take exchange relationships. It is this move from the atomistic level of analysis and explanation to that of the business network that constitutes the theoretical lens to examine the empirical evidence that derives from five case studies of British energy supply companies. Driven by an iterative process of working with the senior leadership teams of these companies, this study offers some original insights in relation to how companies respond to climate change. Indeed, in each of the empirical cases, the senior leadership teams initiated activities in order to access the necessary resources, which were not available in concentrated form, but rather located within the company’s business network. These successive interactions resulted in companies 1) discharging their responsibility by passing the impact to others, 2) protecting their resources and rationalising activities rather than bearing risks of change, and 3) acting akin, or have the propensity to adopt a herd mentality, to other actors with similar intrinsic values and beliefs rather than operating in isolation. Hereby, this study not only provides a more comprehensive explanation of how companies respond to climate change but also offers new evidence as to how companies interact and behave in business relationships and networks.