"New" corporate environmentalism: A political ecology critique of tobacco SCRM

Helmut Geist

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The new field of global supply chain risk management (SCRM) suffers from conceptual deficiencies concerning business risks (definitions, integrative frameworks). Tobacco as a linked environmental/health case is used to show that especially reputational risk and political economy thinking are largely absent from theorizing about corporations with complex, overseas agricultural supply chains. It is demonstrated that the global tobacco industry, following a phase of fighting and resisting adaptation to external pressures concerning the management of agro-ecological hazards, now embraces environmental stewardship in the form of socially responsible initiatives, mainly (good agricultural practices, ecosystem valuation, biodiversity partnerships). For this, selected stages of tobacco’s agricultural supply chain are explored in detail: input supply (wood consumption, biomass removal, deforestation, biodiversity loss) and farm production (green tobacco sickness). It is argued that the industry, mainly British American Tobacco (BAT), attempts to give the appearance of complying with legal and moral environmental standards: it has framed legitimacy and credibility primarily as a matter of altering public perceptions, but the notion of truth is largely absent from the conceptualization of risk management. The framework of political ecology is proposed to better inform conventional business school concepts about “new” corporate environmentalism in the modeling of business risks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSupply-chain management
Subtitle of host publicationTheories, activities/functions and problems
EditorsRegina M. Samson
Place of PublicationHauppage, NY, USA
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9781616687151
ISBN (Print)97816116682842
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011


  • Tobacco industry
  • Political ecology
  • Supply chain
  • Business risk
  • Risk management
  • Environmental stewardship
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Sustainability
  • Ecosystem valuation
  • Good agricultural practices
  • Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
  • Wood
  • Deforestation
  • Green tobacco sickness
  • British American Tobacco


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