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What motivates firms to adopt environmental management practices is one of the most significant aspects in the contemporary academic debate in which the review of the existing literature yields, with an obvious contextual bias towards developed world, contested theories and inconclusive findings.

Providing a unique model that brings together the individual and organizational levels of analysis on firms’ adoption of environmental management practices, this study aims to provide a new insight from the context of developing world. 

Data from 158 Red Sea hotels reveal two identifiable dimensions of environmental management- planning and organization, and operations- that can be explained as originating from different values. While organizational altruism is a powerful predictor of both two dimensions, managers’ personal values and organizational competitive orientation are only relevant to environmental operations. The evidence also indicates that contextual variables such as chain affiliation, hotel star rating and size are important to explain hotels’ environmental management behaviors.

The article was just published this month, as: El Dief, M. & Font, X (2012)  Determinants of environmental management in the Red Sea Hotels: personal and organizational values and contextual variables, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 36 (1) 115-137


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The Royal Continental Hotel in Naples (Italy) has been working to be more sustainable between 2008 and 2010. When they had achieved a certain number of results, they decided to promote these through a comic, in English and Italian, called “Mr Royal- respect and save the environment”. It is the first time I have seen a hotel do this, and well worth getting it.  READ IT ONLINE

They chose this format to make what is operational information, usually communicated as unappealing text in management speak, more attractive to users. While their audience was not clearly defined, they still went ahead with contracting a cartoonist. They explain one action per two page spread, cleverly promoting 10 suppliers, who in turn contributed EUR3,000 each to get this endorsement and financed the whole project. 10,000 copies have been printed, distributed through the hotel, in tourism fairs and in the hotel association. Management believes this has improved the reputation of the hotel amongst its peers, has gained corporate clients’ appreciation, and while it has not attracted first time customers, it has helped to gain loyalty.

None of this has however been measured, and it is an isolated marketing effort. It is interesting to see how the fantastic booklet is at odds with the rest of the image the hotel gives, proving once more that most sustainability communications are tangential, as we can see from the hotel’s website. Any ideas on how to help this hotel make better use of their comic? What can we learn from their experience?


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The  article from Lluis Garay and Xavier Font  in the International Journal of Hospitality Management, soon to be published, shows that:

  • Businesses that take sustainability actions for eco-savings reasons perform best financially,
  • Businesses that take sustainability actions for moral reasons are happy with their financial performance, but don’t perform as well as the first group, and
  • Businesses that take the least sustainability actions also have the lowest financial results.

The data was collected from 400 accommodation suppliers in Catalonia, Spain. We are now testing with 900 businesses in Europarc destinations across Europe, and I will share the results from this research in the near future.

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What are you trying to do? I mean, why are you letting people know you are green? Is your aim to change how people: 1) view the world- the culture of consumption, or 2) what they actually do or buy? Is your aim to satisfy market needs by making them aware of these and turning them into demands? Or do you see your role as in satisfying demands they are already aware of?  The further down this list you go, the easier your job is in a way, but also the less attention you will receive for it is less innovative. (more…)

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