Disruption or Sustenance: An Institutional Analysis of Sustainable Business Practices in West Michigan
|Deborah M. Steketee, Ph.D.|
Department of Sustainable Business
1607 Robinson Rd. SE
Grand Rapids, MI USA 49506
As an ideal, sustainable business departs from the linear “heat, beat, and treat” structures of the current industrial system toward a logic which draws upon the expertise of nature--a highly productive and long-lived system (Benyus 1999/2002). Polemics aside, bringing this “new industrial revolution” (McDonough and Braungart, 2002) to the factory floor, to communities and to regions around the globe is proving to be complex, demanding, and filled with uncertainties. Yet one feels comfortable asserting that innovation in products, processes and organizations will play prominently in this new paradigm for human progress.
This paper offers a preliminary exploration of the institutional arrangements that may help facilitate sustainable innovation as a regional economic development strategy. It examines the possible trajectories of sustainable innovation, while also elaborating the essential role of institutions as guides and constraints for human interaction in the pursuit of collective goals. The paper also includes a brief case study of the West Michigan region in North America. After a general overview, a brief institutional analysis of the interaction between actors and processes provides insights into “sustainable innovation” as a regional economic development strategy in the United States.
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