Business, Ecological Design and Biomimicry: Designing Sustainable Business as a Model of the Natural World

By John Betton and Thomas Hench.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The centrality of sustainability to business has dramatically expanded over the last decade. Diminishing resources, the impact of fossil fuels and the associated costs of waste disposal and environmental damage have served to establish sustainability as an important business priority.
In addition, sustainability has been viewed as a way of using resources effectively and with minimum environmental impact and also as a way of minimizing risk in areas like climate change.
With these goals in mind, sustainability has often been viewed as a technological issue; for example substituting different kinds of light bulbs to use less energy or promoting biofuels as a substitute for fossil fuel based energy. We argue that technological approaches to sustainability suffer from a lack of knowledge as to their long-term environmental impact and ignore design strategies based on the natural world.
This paper considers design approaches based on the natural world e.g. biomimicry and living machines that are based on a history of natural adaptation and elimination of waste. Sustainability, we argue, requires consideration of how design solutions operate in the natural world, not technological “fixes” that are not sustainable solutions.

Keywords: Biomimicry, Sustainability, Living Machines, Ecological Design

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.93-100. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 584.190KB).

Dr. John Betton

Professor, College of Business, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA

John Betton graduated with a doctorate from the University of South Carolina following twelve years working in Europe. He is Professor of Comparative Mangement Systems at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where he teaches classes in business and human rights as well as the environmental studies program. His research has appeared in The Academy of Mangement Review and Labor Law journal as well as more interdisciplinary publications such as Social Forces and Journal of Genocide Research.

Dr. Thomas Hench

Professor, College of Business, University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA

Tom Hench is a professor of management at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he teaches business strategy, innovation and technology management, and international management. He received his doctorate in management from the University of South Carolina in 1996, with an emphasis in strategic and international management. His dissertation, “An Evolutionary History of the Office Systems Furniture Industry and the Nature of Strategic Change,” examined evolution, entrepreneurship, and strategy as emergent, self-organizing processes. Tom also holds Masters degrees in management and international relations from Vanderbilt University and Boston University, respectively. Before earning his doctorate, he worked for nearly two decades in product management and product development for privately-held, high-growth manufacturing firms, with much of his time spent in the office systems furniture industry.

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