Mapping out the Green Economy

Most businesses are promoting ‘Going Green’ while politicians peddle the concept as a way to grow jobs.  Many people have been disappointed with the perceived ‘hype.’  My question, with this concept, was who was going to lead this green economy? 

LMU’s Dean Jack McCann and I published an article entitled “Benchmarking a Leadership Model for the Green Economy” to address this subject.  This paper examined benchmarking leadership theories in order to build a new leadership model for the green economy.  This academic journey opened my eyes on the green economy.

Let’s explore this green economy. Many hope that the green economy will provide new prosperity for America’s future. The current economy is fueled exclusively by oil, natural gas, and coal. As these resources continue to become scarce, the cost increases.

On the contrary, the green economy is environment friendly and provides an opportunity for more innovation. Many experts support the green economy concept. Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, suggests that the stage is set for a green economy with billions of people from China, India, and the former Soviet Union demanding their share of the energy treasure chest.

There will be more energy demands to feed the world’s microwaves, vehicles, and other power hungry technology.  Friedman argues that this global demand would create an environmental disaster. This reality could infuse a new desire for renewable energies and environmental sustainable systems.

For example, Michigan has created more than 11,000 renewable energy jobs in four years; these jobs are compensated with sustaining a fair and equitable wage. Critics argue that some jobs will be lost as more rigorous energy regulations are in place and companies are forced to make energy transitions.

Jerome Ringo, the former president of the Apollo Alliance which has a coalition that promotes clean energy and green jobs, further maintains that these setbacks could be overcome by taking the proper steps. Therefore, the green economy could become a positive driving force in the future.

Ringo argues that green jobs could revive the U.S. economy while resolving some of the worst environmental problems facing the world. He points to this fact based on several states implementing the green economy.  However, other individuals have their doubts about any financial success from the green economy.

What do you foresee as leadership challenges for launching the green economy?  Please share your personal or professional experience on this subject.


© 2012 by Daryl D. Green                                    


18 thoughts on “Mapping out the Green Economy

  1. The future of green energy will rely mainly upon the leadership challenges the leaders will face. This problem is a political problem. Any time there is a political problem the first challenge that must be overcome is the lobbying power in Washington D.C. Lobbying is defined as a group of persons engaged in trying to influence legislators or other public officials in favor of a specific cause (, 2011). Oil lobbyists will likely have a negative stance about going green due to the fact that it will impact oil exporting countries bottom line. Politicians are always selling their vote and I suspect that this will be the case when dealing with the front line challenges of implementing a green economy.

    Thefreedictionary. In (2011). Princeton University. Retrieved from

  2. The political parties are on two different sides of the fence when it comes to global warming/climate change. Gallup Poll results on global warming spanning a decade, including results from Gallup’s 2008 Environment Poll conducted 6–9 March,12 suggest that this skepticism among Republican and conservative elites (particularly leading conservative media figures)13 has led rank-and-file Republicans in the electorate to follow suit. Currently a very large gap exists between self-identified Republicans and Democrats in terms of perceptions of global warming (Dunlap & McCright, 2009). Until the debate becomes nonpartisan, the green economy will struggle for the most part. That is not to say that there will not be gains by private organizations but there will not be the boom of economic growth on the back of the green economy until Republicans can admit to believing the science of climate change.

    Dunlap, R. E. S., & McCright, A. M. (2009, October). Environment. Retrieved from Issues/September-October 2008/dunlap-full.html

  3. The definition of nonpartisan is not partisan or aligned, esp not affiliated to, influenced by, or supporting any one political party (, 2012). This means that republicans and Democrats must put political affiliation behind them and focus on the betterment of the country. This sounds like a very simple task to perform but given the current state of the economy, stock market, and being an election year politicians are standing fast to their partisan beliefs. It is a shame that politicians care more about getting elected than providing a service for our country. The US is run by money hungry politicians that are driven by lobbyists. Other countries, China, are driven by success, education, and the betterment of their way of life. The US originally started that direction but the past 30 years the American public has seen a huge shift towards corrupt state and federal politicians that are only driven by greed, fringe benefits, and re-election.

    Nonpartisan. (2012, March 14). Retrieved from

  4. Leaders are having enough trouble maintaining functional and profitable businesses due to today’s economy. Most agree that switching to greener energy sources and living lives that are overall more “green” are not only beneficial, but they are imperative for the sustainability of the world. However, the largest challenge is cost. Rather than allocating resources to become greener, organizations would rather utilize their resources to help maximize wealth. Maximization of shareholder wealth is the goal of any firm, and today’s organizations are sparing no costs to do so. Although they may recognize the importance of going green, they feel that it is not an immediate concern.
    Going green creates a competitive advantage, and firms that do not recognize the importance will find that they cannot maintain their sustainability. Zach Anchors responds in his article, Why Most Companies Who ‘Go Green’ Do It All Wrong, that “…if you’re looking at things that are too expensive, then don’t do it. But fair warning: :You may have competitors who are thinking creatively about sustainability pressures and who may come up with a greener product that competes with yours.”
    Anchors, Z. (2011). Why most companies who ‘go green’ do it all wrong. Retrieved from

    • Katie,

      Excellent! Yes, everyone loves a cash cow. However, some senior managers are able to look beyond their shareholders for greater profitablity in the future?

      How do they manage to do this?

      Professor Green

  5. Hello,

    Dr. Green and I have researched the topic of leadership and the green economy. We discovered that little research exists in how the green economy will impact contemporary organizations’ strategy, structure, and culture; new theories may need to be developed to assist organizations in developing the right kind of leadership for the green economy; the creation of green jobs may infuse organizations with more emphasis on values and leadership competency; the over dependence on technology to create jobs and sustain society’s quality of life carries unintended consequences; and agrarian leadership may offer organizations a better ability to lead workers in the green economy (Green and McCann, 2011).

    Green energy is just one of many tools for helping our globe solve its sustainability challenges. However, leaders must first adopt leadership model for today’s green economy. One that consider sustainability as a cornerstone requirement and even help organizations answer the following questions:

    What is sustainable leadership? How can you become a sustainable leader? Will being a sustainable leader bring more profits to your organization? These questions and more should be asked of our top leaders in non-profit organizations to top public companies. They could share their wisdom in forums, such as this blog, and share life lessons that help their business, career, and lives.

    Sustainable leadership is concerned with creating current and future profits for an organization while improving the lives of all concerned (McCann and Holt, 2010). Today’s organizational leaders must successfully guide their organizations through today’s volatile economic times and do so in a sustainable manner

    McAslan and Ruberstein (2010) offer recommendations to promote sustainability. These principles of sustainability promote the kind of change that manufacturers should adopt. They will help current manufacturing concerns survive and new manufacturing organizations grow and develop new products required by the global economy. These ten recommendations are presented in the following paraphrased version:

    1. Make optimal use of human and material resources in the production process.
    2. Provide rewards and incentives to all employees to be more efficient in the use of materials, and human talent in a gain sharing manner.
    3. Create disincentives for employees and managers who do not effectively promote sustainability and reach targets.
    4. Create and support a culture that promotes sustainability in everything that manufacturing does.
    5. Reengineer the business plan that involve adopting new technologies, human resource systems, and financial reporting that ensure sustainability efforts are cost effective and promote profitability.
    6. Incorporate externalities in business decisions. Consider things that the company may not be charged for, such as pollution, but should consider as part of the sustainability plan.
    7. Demand real progress immediately and increase it in a cumulative manner as the manufacturing organization learns to be sustainable.
    8. Develop plans in three phases for the sustainability effort: 1-3 years, 4-10, and ten to twenty years for achieving optimal use of material and human resources.
    9. Demand and expect that the supply chain used by the manufacturing organization adopt and implement sustainability planning and implementation.
    10. Integrate sustainability into the marketing, public relations, reputation, product development, and transportation processes of the company. (pp. 3-4)


    Jack McCann, Dean of the Lincoln Memorial University School of Business at Harrogate, TN


    Green, D. D. & McCann, J. (2011). Benchmarking a leadership model for the green economy. Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 18 Iss: 3, pp.445 – 465.

    McCann, J. & Holt, R. (2010). Defining sustainable leadership. Int. J. Sustainable Strategic Management, 2(2).

    McAslan, K. & Ruberstein, H. (2010, January 31). Enhancing sustainability in America. Retrieved November 28, 2010 from

    • The long-term challenge for going green is the cost competitiveness of the green energy alternatives. Cost will have a HUGE role in this because if they can’t reduce the costs, then it will be difficult to sustain and this must start at an international level to be sustainable. With the economies of scale, the cost of green energy would be expected to come down if more people start using it. This will make it cheaper. On the other hand, most people will wait until the cost comes down. It’s like a catch-22, some people say I will go green when the cost comes down on the other hand if most people use green alternatives then the costs will come down on its own. Another way that green economy could gain an economic advantage is if the traditional fuels sky-rocket in cost because they have become scarce. This could happen if there is a depletion of these resources particularly oil. There needs to be a concerted effort of a global policy devoted to overcoming the sustainability and funding challenges of rising ecological scarcity worldwide in order to overcome problems of sustainability in the future.
      Barbier, E. (2011). The policy challenges for green economy and sustainable economic development.Natural Resources Forum, 35(3), 233-245. Retrieved from
      Edwards, A. R. (2005). The sustainability revolution: Portrait of a paradigm shift. Gabriola, BC: New Society Publishers.

      • I would like to thank you Professor McCann in enriching our learning experience on sustainability! The recommendations you stated seem so simple and logical yet we have many companies who do not use these principles to sustain their businesses. On the other hand, the leading companies have recognized these principles and have incorporated them in their organization to promote sustainability. I was browsing through Wal-Mart’s website and they have made many initiatives in regards to sustainability and going green. There’s no wonder they are a strong leading organization in the world today. On their website they say “At Walmart, we know that being an efficient and profitable business and being a good steward of the environment are goals that can work together. Our broad environmental goals at Walmart are simple and straightforward: To be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy; to create zero waste; to sell products that sustain people and the environment”( On their site, they believe that the next leader of the green economy could be a student. They have setup a student challenge for students to submit their new ideas in hopes they can move forward in this movement.

        Once again, thank you Professor McCann, it was a pleasure having you join us.

    • Dean McCann,

      Your post is very informative. I would like to personally thank you for stopping by to post on this blog to enhance our learning experience with Dr. Green. The ten recommendations for sustainability are eye opening and appropriate. Thanks again for posting.

      • Chris,

        It is my pleasure to learn with you and Professor Green. Sustainability and long-term thinking are critical to business and our planet’s survival. I enjoy learning and this blog has been enhanced by the students of this topic.

        Professor McCann

    • Dr. Green,

      Always a pleasure to provide my thoughts and research to further the topic of sustainability. In addition, it is enjoyable to learn from you and your students about this critical topic.

      Professor McCann

  6. Leaders of this green economy must be the politicians, businesses, AND environmentalists. Depending on the situation, all three can be the leaders of the green economy. If there’s a potential for profit, then businesses may take lead. If it has gained popularity, then politicians could become the leaders. And certain environmentalists could become leaders of this revolution since they are committed to the cause and have made it their mission. There’s a potential for all of them to collaborate together to achieve common goals and make green economy a successful movement. For example, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has strongly advocated that Michigan be the one to lead the movement of green economy. She points out in an interview that: “it’s all about jobs, I feel very strategic about this… because of Michigan’s natural assets, our geography, our geology… and our history with the automotive industry. We are in this unique situation where we can lead in this job creation and green economy” (MLUIMedia, 2009). Her agenda in this green economy is to help Michigan’s economy and decrease its unemployment rate which was rated the highest in the nation to appease the masses who are struggling to find a job.

    MLUIMedia. (Composer). (2009). Granholm: Michigan can lead in green economy. [Web Video]. Retrieved from

  7. As the worldwide demand for energy increases, it is ever so important for humanity as a whole to invest in cleaner and sustainable forms of energy. As others have mentioned on this blog, the cost of such an investment is a critical factor; no one wants to invest in solutions that cost more than they save, especially in today’s economy. Furthermore, I think it is nearly impossible to tackle an issue such as clean energy on an individual; only the right economic policies will enable us as individuals to be guided by self-interest and still do the right thing for the planet.

    “Leading scientific groups and most climate scientists say we need to decrease global annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least half of current levels by 2050 and much further by the end of the century.
    So why bother recycling or riding your bike to the store? Because we all want to do something, anything. Call it “action bias.” But, sadly, individual action does not work. It distracts us from the need for collective action, and it doesn’t add up to enough. Self-interest, not self-sacrifice, is what induces noticeable change.”1

    The 10 recommendations presented by dean McCann are very logical and practical steps that businesses can take in order to not only improve their bottom lines, but improve the life our planet for future generations. I particularly agree with recommendations two and three where every employee is held accountable for their actions in regards to efficiency and sustainability. This same accountability must be in place in the business community as a whole, specifically under the watch of the state and federal government. Without it, we are doomed to live in an environment where waste and inefficiency are at the forefront. What can society do as a whole to combat this problem? Mr. Wagner of the New York Times suggest,

    “It won’t change until a regulatory system compels us to pay our fair share to limit pollution accordingly. Limit, of course, is code for “cap and trade,” the system that helped phase out lead in gasoline in the 1980s, slashed acid rain pollution in the 1990s and is now bringing entire fisheries back from the brink. “Cap and trade” for carbon is beginning to decrease carbon pollution in Europe, and similar models are slated to do the same from California to China.”

    I agree with this sentiment and emphasize that the right economic incentives must be in place for both individuals and businesses alike in order to sustain the forthcoming green economy.

    1. Wagner, Gernot (September 7, 2011). New York Times. Going Green but Getting Nowhere. Retrieved from

  8. Every day more and more trainings are implemented to prepare for the growing job market in the area of sustainability. In Washington, D.C. they have executed a new green-collar job-training program; New York enacted the Green Procurement and Agency sustainability Program to reduce materials and energy consumption. The Apollo Alliance, which consists of a partnership of businesses, labor, environmental, and community leaders sponsoring and encouraging environmental change. The group has proposed that $300 billion in federal funding over the next decade to assist in supporting green projects that will demand the creation of an estimated 3 million new green careers and/or jobs. (Parks & Helmer, 2009).
    The future of sustainability is dependent upon environmental education. The education systems across the nation are also developing new programs, courses, and classes to address the need for expected high demand of environmental educators, geothermal energy, technical energy engineers, and millions of blue collar jobs dealing with everyday services.

    Parks, Barbara and Helmer, Jodi. (2009). The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Careers. New York, NY. Penguin Group, USA

  9. One barrier to implementing a green economy is the education process of those that will participate in it. Once the citizens are students are educated about the pros, cons, and benefits of green jobs and green economic systems, then they will be more motivated and have the buy-in necessary in order to move forward. Some jobs and college majors go unfilled because the target market simply does not know of the opportunities that exist. My parents have told me several times that they would have considered going into engineering, but at the time, they did not know much about the field. The conversation on the green economy is still new and fresh. By implementing a wide-spread educational program and incorporating it on multiple levels, from child to adult, more and more people can be mobilized to work toward it.

    “Higher education too has a critical role to play, much as it did during the space race of the 1960s. Colleges and universities can — and must — help students understand the complex connections and interdependencies between the environment, energy sources, and the economy — connections that underpin the concept of a clean energy, green economy. Only then will a broad segment of the population begin to pull in the same direction as those who are leading this transition.”

    Reference: Retrieved 5 May, 2012 from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s