This thesis aims to investigate perceptions of sustainability in relation to business
strategy within the Swedish chemical industry. To this end, a survey was
distributed with the assistance of industry organization Plast- och Kemiföretagen
to companies that are part of the Responsible Care® program.
A second purpose of the study is to explore critical factors when implementing an
integration of sustainability with business strategy. To do this as well as dig deeper
into a couple of questions raised in the survey, a qualitative study was carried out
at Akzo Nobel business unit Pulp and Paper Chemicals (operating under the brand
name of Eka Chemicals). Semi-structured interviews were performed with seven
company representatives from different organizational levels, to explore critical
factors identified in a literary study.
From the survey, it could be concluded that the studied companies considered
sustainability as an important issue today and with growing importance for the
future. It was also observed that sustainability is currently not an issue at the core
of business strategy, as 35% of respondent companies did not think that top
management handled issues related to sustainability. Enhanced reputation and
cost reduction/resource efficiency were seen as the primary creators of business
value when addressing sustainability. Additional top motivating forces to consider
sustainability were legislative demands and company core values.
From the literary study a model of critical factors when implementing changes in
strategy was developed. Four different aspects identified were explored in the
semi-structured interviews at Eka Chemicals: change leadership, shared vision,
sense of urgency and aligning goals. In that specific setting, the critical factors of
having a shared vision and aligning individual, organizational unit and corporate
goals were found to exist to a high degree, while the critical factor of change
leadership was only partially existent, and a sense of urgency not existent.
2008. , 75 p.