Company With a Fairly Strong Sustainability Policy Essay

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company with a fairly strong sustainability policy is Wal-Mart. The company publishes a fairly extensive report about its sustainability practices. One of the interesting things about Wal-Mart's sustainability practices is that they seem very focused on efficiency, with efforts dedicated to waste reduction. This is important to the company in that by reducing waste they are lowering their costs.

The concept of sustainability, however, is the measure here. Wal-Mart's stakeholders with respect to sustainability are mostly internal, with external stakeholders being suppliers and then the world in general. The suppliers are active partners in Wal-Mart's sustainability efforts, as they must work closely with the company to ensure that sustainability initiatives are met.

Other stakeholders are more generic in nature, and do not appear to have been consulted. Environmental advocacy groups do not appear to have contributed to this effort. In general, Wal-Mart's overall business practices are not especially sustainable, given the use of overseas suppliers and the fact the company encourages the purchase of low quality goods. So in a sense, a more efficient Wal-Mart isn't really as good as no Wal-Mart, but the company obviously doesn't see it that way.

So as far as I can tell, the key stakeholders within the company and within the supply chain have all made significant contributions to the policies that Wal-Mart has with respect to sustainability. Less, more indirect stakeholders, have perhaps not been invited to the discussion and the overall sustainability policy meets the company's need for waste reduction specifically. It is not that this is bad -- it is actually quite good -- but that by omitting discussion from other stakeholders the end result is not comprehensive.

Phase 2 Individual Project

Part 2. Steel et al. (2004) note that scientists do not always play a significant role in setting environmental policy. That this would even be a point of discussion is truly amazing -- policy on scientific matters that does not reflect actual science is not something fit for any nation that wishes to be taken seriously. The authors note that scientific modeling does not always lead to concrete, actionable conclusions, and that is fair enough, but other stakeholders are consulted who have nothing more than fiction and an agenda, and this is why policy is so poor sometimes. It was, according to the authors, only during the Clinton Administration that scientists became more directly involved as stakeholders in setting environmental policy.

Unbelievably, Steel contends that the ability of science to influence the policy-making process is contingent on "factors such as competence and integrity." This opens the door for interest groups to simply question the competence and integrity of scientists -- as routinely happens where climate change is concerned and science would then be sidelined in policy setting. What replaces it? People with no competence and even less integrity. Steel argues that "we expect those scientists, managers, interest group representatives and public participants who accept key elements of positivism to be most supportive of involving scientists in the policy process." There are many amazing things about this statement. The first is that one who does not accept the role of positivism -- using evidence -- should be considered to have a valid opinion. If not evidence, then what? Guesswork? Superstition? Further, interest groups are guided by their interest, not necessarily evidence, and if policy makers cannot grasp their inherent bias then those people should not be policymakers. All of this points to a broken process of crafting environmental policy, where scientists may or may not be consulted, and when they are they may well be marginalized. Sounds third world to me.

There are a number of stakeholders who find themselves omitted from the process. I guess with environmental policy the most obvious is the environment - plants and animals cannot answer questions so they don't get to the discussion table. At time, representatives of the environment may be called to present evidence, but in our society environmental decisions are often made only with human considerations in mind. Let's just say that some societies do not work this way, but ours does, and therefore it is human interests solely, as though we are somehow disconnected from this planet, that drive policy. Even with that, the general public is often not invited to the discussion either. When interest groups are actively writing legislation, one can well be assured that Congress is not taking the public's interest seriously when interest groups are solely driving the legislative process (Levy & Razin, 2012).

Part 3. Stakeholder engagement is critical in agenda-setting for a few reasons. The first is that stakeholders understand the issue from a number of different perspectives. When there is a decision to be made, it is better to make that decision with all of the different perspectives understood. This consultative process does make the decision-making process slower, but it also ensure that you get a better decision in the first place, so that you don't have to go back and fix mistakes. The stakeholders all understand the issues, and because they have different perspectives, you might find that they have better solutions, and by working with stakeholders you just generally get a higher degree of creativity with respect to solutions than you might otherwise without such consultations.

Stakeholder engagement is also important because you need to have stakeholder buy-in for the implementation. Whatever policy is being implemented, stakeholder buy-in before the announcement will help make the implementation smoother. Stakeholder engagement first helps you to identify the key stakeholders. Then stakeholder engagement makes the stakeholders feel as though they were involved in the decision and it helps them to help shape policy. Where there are objections, the engagement process brings those to the fore. Often, it costs less to deal with problems before implementation than it does to deal with problems after or during the implementation process. So stakeholder engagement will typically make a new policy stronger, and it will typically make a new policy easier and cheaper to implement as a result.

Phase 2, Discussion Board 2

The media can help to define an agenda, without question. The media plays this critical role by providing information about issues. The information that the media plays helps to raise awareness of issues, and it is from this awareness that public sentiment is changed and the desire for action among the public. Media has been noted for having a specific influence on children, as they are recipients of the media's one-way messages at an age when they lack critical reasoning skills -- and it's not much of a stretch to suggest that many adults also struggle with critical reasoning either (Huston, Zillmann & Bryant, 1994).

The media's role can be positive because it is a great tool for providing information. The media can drive discussion, for example, and in this way people can become more informed and therefore more active in the decision-making process. The media, however, can also be a negative force when it either misinforms, fails to inform, is selective in what it talks about, or when it guides people to specific opinions. A media that is informative is valuable, but media with an agenda can be a hindrance to successful dialogue in environmental policy-making.

The question isn't really about the right amount of media involvement, but the right type. The right amount would be that the media is able to cover major issues, but different forms of media need to be engaged because some media outlets are better at in-depth coverage while others are better and conveying a broad scope of information. The right type of coverage would be a mix. Preferably, this coverage would be free of agenda, so that stakeholders can make up their own minds about a given issue, rather than simply parroting the views of whoever put together the media story on the subject.

Phase 2,Discussion Board 3

Parts 1 & 2. Delshad notes that the dialogue between the different groups -- the White House, Congress and the media has multiple different flows of influence. Obviously in recent years, we can see that if the President supports something, Congress will oppose it, even if it was their party's idea in the first place. But cynicism aside, the author is noting that no theory has yet been developed to fully explain these influence flows. The author proposes some variables that can help define these influence flows. She notes that economic indicators, public opinion polls and election year politics all play a role in agenda-setting with respect to biofuels. These factors -- none of which include science -- became critical drivers in policy-setting. What this shows is that the media has a massive amount of influence in policy-setting. Public opinion polls are driven in large part by what the public learns in the media. There are no other means for the general public to learn about issues -- good luck being a member of the public and accessing a journal article. What things become issues, and how the…

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