Organizational IT Sustainability Measures: The Strategic Green Ontology

Organizational IT Sustainability Measures: The Strategic Green Ontology

M. H. Smeitink (Accenture, The Netherlands) and M. Spruit (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1972-2.ch003
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Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of contemporary measures to improve environmental IT sustainability, and explains how to prioritize these measures. The question is not if, but how and when organizations should be addressing sustainability issues, due to expected growth in regulations and growth in stakeholder pressure. In mitigating these sustainability problems, the role of IT is ambiguous. IT is both part of the problem and part of the solution to the problem. This research explains how IT-related opportunities in organizations can support a sustainable environment, and how these relate to organizational goals.
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Introduction: It And Sustainability Issues

Sustainability is increasingly recognized as an important management subject. The realization that responsible IT usage is a sustainability issue is growing. An example of a threat to both organizational and human sustainability is the dependency on energy, depending on the primary activities of an organization’s IT can take up to 50 percent of the total energy usage. (McKeefry, 2008). This describes one of the justifications for Green IT implementation, but also describes the need for environmental awareness. Green strategies provide companies with ways to be more climate friendly. There are multiple motivations for companies wanting to become more ‘Green’. Bansal and Roth (2000) collected data that lead them to state that “firms were motivated largely by concerns for legitimacy, less by competitiveness, and even less by ecological responsibility”. However, Porter & van der Linde (1995) already recognize that companies who actively pursue a green strategy, compared to only complying with regulations, can gain serious advantages in terms of costs because it forces them to innovate. They also state: “company mind-sets make the costs of addressing environmental regulations appear higher than they actually are” (Porter & van der Linde, 1995). The usage of IT plays an important role in companies nowadays, which means its role is ambiguous; IT as one of the causes of environmental problems and IT as part of the solution to solving environmental problems. The usage of IT is a big energy consumer, plus the production of IT components uses a lot of energy and environment unfriendly production and recycling methods. A recent study shows that CEOs find sustainability of great importance to the success of their organization, and more than 90% of the CEOs believe sustainability issues should be fully integrated into the strategy and operations of an organization (Accenture, 2010). More than 90% of CEOs state their organization will employ technology to address sustainability issues, leading to a clear business case for IT sustainability investments. The remainder of this chapter will investigate the following research question: “How can IT-related opportunities in organizations support a sustainable environment and how can these be incorporated into organizational goals?”

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