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Korean Firms' Sustainability Practices and Their Role in the Green Economy
Author: Younsung Kim
Region: Asia
Location: Korea, South
Published November 16, 2017
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Companies in industrialized nations have embraced environmental protection and sustainability as part of their international competitive strategies. The trend toward proactive environmental management has also grown in Korean firms, as consumers, investors, local policy networks, and the Lee Myung-bak administration’s green growth policy initiatives have provided an impetus for the greening of South Korean firms. However, despite heightened firm interest in environmental responsibility, there is little understanding of which types of sustainable activities Korean firms have implemented. Analyzing sustainability reports from 30 large Korean firms, this study finds that Korean firms are more likely to employ lower-order sustainability practices that can help prevent pollution and modify existing processes and products to reduce environmental impact. However, their focus on innovating clean technologies seems to be limited. To transition to a low-carbon, green economy, the Korean government should consider green growth policies that foster firms’ investments in higher-order sustainability strategies and scale up corporate sustainability more broadly in the Korean business community.

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