Inderscience Publishers

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

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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

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