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Abstract

Stakeholders increasingly demand firms to manage their sustainability performance in a comprehensive manner. Companies are expected to surpass regulatory requirements and address sustainability issues in their extended supply chains and along the life cycles of their products. The need for comprehensive approaches in environmental management constitutes the underlying motivation for the three research projects presented in this dissertation. The first research project provides an explicit assessment of the supply chain vs. firm orientation of corporate environmental strategies. To conduct this assessment, an original typology of environmental management practices is developed and used in a content analysis of corporate sustainability reports. The second research project studies carbon footprint and supply chain responsiveness trade-offs in strategic network design using mathematical modelling and optimisation tools. A model for the cost-effective definition of carbon abatement strategies is proposed. Using this model, the effect of carbon policies on costs and network configuration is analysed for both functional and innovative products. Numerical analyses illustrate the relevance of product innovativeness in the definition of different types of carbon targets and explore the traditional equivalence between price and quantity instruments. Finally, having conducted in-depth interviews and a broad survey, the third research project presents managers’ perspectives on ecolabelling and empirically studies the adoption of ecolabels by firms. Practitioners’ views on ecolabelling’s benefits, reasons for scepticism, the challenges ahead and their recommendations are discussed. Using regression analysis, different factors explaining the adoption of ecolabels by firms are identified.

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