Cases & Publications

Course Modules help instructors select and sequence material for use as part of a course. Each module represents the thinking of subject matter experts about the best materials to assign and how to organize them to facilitate learning.

Environmental concerns drive resource constraints, generate societal impacts and often result in uncertain regulatory environments, all of which create both challenges and opportunities for businesses. HBS faculty recognize the importance of understanding these phenomena and teaching managers how to effectively manage environmental issues. Our core faculty are active in writing cases, teaching notes, books and book chapters, and working papers on environmental topics. Course Modules can also be found on the BEI's website.

Download our list of environment-related cases, sortable by sustainability topic, academic discipline, and other key parameters: HBS Case Materials on Environment.

Featured Cases

FEB 2016

Greening Walmart: Progress and Controversy

by Rebecca Henderson and James Weber

In 2005, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, launched a sustainability initiative aimed at reducing waste and making the company more environmentally and socially conscious. By 2015, the company had made progress on multiple dimensions: energy efficiency in its stores and its supply chain, lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions, safer products for customers and manufacturers, and better treatment of its workers. The company promoted the idea that its size gave it significant influence in the economy and that if it took steps to operate more sustainably, and demanded its suppliers do the same, this would have an impact on its own bottom line and make the world a better place for everyone. Students can explore whether Walmart is making these changes to improve its battered public image, improve its bottom line, or because it is the right thing to do.

FEB 2016

Nuclear Energy: An Answer to Climate Change?

by Michael Toffel, Glen Dowell, James Weber

Environmental activist groups have traditionally opposed nuclear energy. However, the growing environmental problems associated with global climate change require major changes to reduce the carbon intensity of electricity generation. Should environmental groups reverse course and support the construction of new nuclear plants—using technology that could be rapidly deployed at scale—to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global climate change?

FEB 2016

Environmental Health

by John Quelch, Emily Boudreau

For many years, private sector concern for environmental health had focused on a fairly narrow set of issues. However, as the second decade of the 21st century opened, it was becoming increasingly clear that the private sector might have a role to play in broader environmental issues that also had the potential to impact health. These included the health effects of climate change, water pollution, species destruction, and waste disposal, among others.


Featured Publications

JAN 2016

Executive Compensation and Misconduct: Environmental Harm

by Dylan Minor

We explore the relationship between managerial incentives and misconduct using the setting of environmental harm. We find that high-powered executive compensation can increase the odds of environmental law-breaking by 40-60% and the magnitude of environmental harm by over 100%. We document similar results for the setting of executive compensation and illegal financial accounting. Finally, we outline some managerial and policy implications to blunt these adverse incentive effects.

JAN 2016

The Sustainable Core: Operations Management

by Michael Toffel and L. Beril Toktay

This note is designed to help faculty embed environmental sustainability content into their core Operations Management course at the MBA or undergraduate level. It can also be used to identify cases with environmental content that can be used in operations electives such as Operations Strategy, Supply Chain Management, and Global Operations. Such integration is key to graduating students with the ability to identify and manage environmental challenges that confront (or will confront) their operations and supply chains, and with the perspective to understand when and how they can create and capture value by making their operations and supply chains more environmentally sustainable.

Course Modules are designed by top HBS faculty to outline strategies for teaching courses related to business and environment. Course Modules help instructors select and sequence material for use as part of a course. Each module represents the thinking of subject matter experts about the best materials to assign and how to organize them to facilitate learning.

In addition, the Baker Library Business and Environment Research Guide points to suggested resources available to the HBS community and is a great starting place for research on environmental issues for business.