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Corporations and sustainable businesses

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Dear OTA,

As an aspiring applied anthropologist, I have opted to try and come up with a convincing theory as to why it would behoove major corporations to focus more on creating a demand (competitively) amongst their producers in an effort to utilize their "weight" collectively and create a demand for more sustainable consumer products. Cargill is a very good example. there re many other major corporations controlling this aspect of marketing I know, but I am having difficulty coming up with specific examples proving that it is feasible; but how?

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Solution Summary

In response to a student question, ideas are given for how to market a sustainable business that helps to maintain biodiversity.

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What an interesting question. I appreciate that it is in your own words, with your sense of humor on display!
This question brings together aspects of business, human populations, human behavior (especially in the markets), and biology (including microbiology). Below are some thoughts that I hope will help as you continue your assignment. Before I continue I want to make sure you know that my background includes biology (especially microbiology and cell biology) and business. For anthropology considerations, you may need to go elsewhere (or use what you are learning in class). Some ideas (not necessarily in the order you would want to present them):

- A better word than theory in this instance would be hypothesis. In general, a theorem is based upon facts that are themselves based on numerous observations. A hypothesis is a possible explanation based, perhaps, on a few observations, but put forward to be tested because you don't know whether it is true or not. Thus, the advancement of science is based upon hypothesis creation and testing. (If enough data over time point in the same direction, we may have a theory.)

- I'm sure you are aware of some of the challenges in what you are proposing. Businesses are most often driven to generate short term profits, in large part because of shareholder interests in making money from their investment in the company. This is very difficult to fight! There are newer investment funds for people who have an interest in sustainability and biodiversity ("green" funds); whether or not they can make the sort of money for investors that traditional businesses do remains to be seen. The most important challenge for more sustainable consumer products, as you propose, is education of the public about the issues. Consumers and shareholders can put pressure on corporations to make decisions they favor.

- Consumers create demand for products, but there are real business reasons for resistance to some sustainable products. ...

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