Profit or Loss? Exploring the Decision-Making Value of Natural Capital Accounting for Businesses
Sammanfattning: The aim of the study at had was to explore the potential of Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) to integrate environment into business decision-making. In order to fulfill the aim, the research was split into three main parts. First, the existing views on what constitutes NCA were reviewed through a literature analysis of grey literature, and the working definition established. The study found that the existing opinions differed in two aspects: (1) whether or not to monetise impacts and dependencies, and (2) the extent to which ecosystems are incorporated. NCA was then defined as a monetary evaluation of impacts and/or dependencies of businesses on natural capital and ecosystem services. Second, building on the existing literature on similar environmental management concepts, several working claims were derived from the literature around the potential of NCA to contribute to the integration of sustainability, namely, its potential to (1) increase departmental collaboration, (2) enhance the value of Environmental Management System, (3) contribute to strategic decision-making and (4) build awareness on environmental risks and opportunities. Several contingent factors were identified that could influence the integrative value of NCA. The claims were then tested through incorporating experiences of companies from various sectors. Unanimous evidence to support the first and the third claims were found, while results as related to the second and fourth claims were inconclusive. In general, the role of NCA in the integration of environment into corporate decision-making was found to be mostly indirect and related to building individual awareness of people within the company. Recommendations for practitioners included communicating the added value of monetisation, increased dialogue between different initiatives and working on the social capital. Recommendations for businesses included establishing working groups consisting of various departments and building on the existing assessment tools to decrease the resource intensity. Finally, potential for future research was outlined, highlighting possible relevance of a process-tracing case study.
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