Until project competion
The Student Assistant will provide research support for Professor Ian Dunham in the Management Department, LFCoB. The project is funded by a grant provided by the LFCoB. This position is ideal for graduate students, aspiring graduate students, and individuals wishing to pursue careers in environmental sustainability.
Project Title: “Corporate Strategies for Climate Change under the California Cap-and-Trade Program”
This project addresses how California companies are strategically addressing climate change and are responding the California Cap-and-Trade Program. Corporate strategy surrounding climate change represents a paramount role in reducing greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions and has become a pressing area of academic research (Hahn, Reimsbach, Schiemann, Bertels, & Bowen, 2015; Liu & Yang, 2018; Sullivan & Gouldson, 2017).
California is a nationwide leader in climate change policy. In 2013, California launched a market-based cap-and-trade program to reduce GhG emissions—the first state program of its kind in the United States—as a central component of the broader goal of reducing emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030 (California Air Resources Board [CARB], 2017; 2019a; 2019b). The California Cap-and-Trade Program (CA C&T Program) affects around 450 businesses, which collectively are responsible for an estimated 85 percent of California’s total GhG emissions, in one of the world’s most innovative economies.
This original research will investigate corporate strategies to meet GhG emission reduction
targets, and/or invest in low and zero GhG products, practices, and technologies. The hypothesis
is that covered companies in California face isomorphic pressures as a result of the CA C&T
Program that influences firm behavior with regards to profitability, investment decisions,
financing, consumer price, employment, and environmental quality. This paper is concerned with
advancing theory by developing an understanding of how external regulation may shape the
internal management decisions of firms. Using Oliver’s (1991) conceptual framework of the
behavior of organizations, which provides a foundation for the strategic responses of firms to
institutional pressures, this paper will examine the potential reactions of covered companies in
complying with the CA C&T Program. In particular, the causal impact of state regulation
(coercive isomorphism), as well as other pressures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be
examined. Assuming that covered entities have flexibility in their strategies to comply with the
CA C&T Program and seek to maximize profitability within the regulatory framework, covered
companies may prioritize and make trade-offs between stakeholder interests. This research will
thus also employ stakeholder theory to assess the impact of corporate actions on a variety of
stakeholders (e.g. community public health, consumers, employees, environment, etc.).
The methods to be used include both a quantitative survey and qualitative semi-structured
interviews with corporate executives, quantitative analysis of aggregate emissions data provided
by the CARB, and content analyses of available annual reports and financial statements.
-The Student Assistant will assist with a variety of research tasks. Initial steps will include online research about the business activities of California companies, as well as reviewing available annual reports and financial statements.
-Company contact data will be gathered via online searches and phone calls and organized using Microsoft Excel.
-Additional tasks may include reading academic peer-reviewed articles and assisting in writing summaries. Additional work will depend on funding and project timeline.
-Ability to communicate effectively with external business representatives via phone and email
-Proficiency with Microsoft Excel
-Graduate student currently enrolled in MBA program or other graduate-level program at SFSU
-Strong interest in environmental sustainability
-Desire to learn about academic research in peer-reviewed journals