Kellogg Professor Lawrence Rothenberg
articulates the challenges of public policy, and its implications
for MBAs who must address the ethical — and financial
— fallout when business and the environment meet
Kellogg School Professor Lawrence Rothenberg spends
a lot of time unraveling the complexities of public policy,
particularly as it relates to American politics, business
and environmental — or “green” — concerns.
He’s not thrilled with some of what he sees.
Policy is tortuous in the United States,” Rothenberg
says. “Many of the resulting choices are extremely
costly and inefficient.”
Policies such as certain elements of the
Clean Air Act do not have clear rationales for their
to Rothenberg, a Long Island-born political scientist
who is the Max McGraw Distinguished Professor of Management
and the Environment at Kellogg.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies
are poorly designed,” Rothenberg contends. “Good
public policy that facilitates firms acting in a socially
responsible manner often gets lost in the process.”
Rothenberg’s 2002 text, Environmental Choices: Policy
Reponses to Green Demands, demonstrates how factors such
as political fragmentation lead to policies that many consider
inconsistent and poorly designed.
Green demands are treated differently in the United States,
as opposed to how they are addressed in parliamentary regimes,” he
says, citing as one example the varied dynamics existing
between the United States and Canada, where policies can
be implemented more quickly and comprehensively because
they do not get lost in complicated legislative and administrative
processes. However, the good news is that in the United
States and other advanced industrial countries, progress
has been made on a variety of fronts.
Pushes for environmental quality should
be considered “a
normal good,” Rothenberg says, and as a society we
want a cleaner environment as we have become wealthier
and developed greater awareness. “However,” he
adds, “supplying environmental goods in response
to such demands is a function of both market and nonmarket
forces, making the world quite complicated for firms trying
to be good corporate citizens while also offering them
Rothenberg is co-director of the Ford
Motor Company Center for Global Citizenship. The center,
established in 2001,
is dedicated to identifying challenges faced by large
corporations through an ethical, interdisciplinary approach.
In addition to working for the center,
Rothenberg teaches the Environmental Management course
for Kellogg School
students. The class is part of the Kellogg Business and
its Social Environment (BASE) major, an ambitious curriculum
that introduces MBAs to the crucial roles corporations
play within the broader social arena. “My purpose
is to teach students about the relevance of such concerns
for modern business,” he explains. “I want
to educate them about the pitfalls and opportunities in
this area, and inform them about the importance of taking
social concerns seriously as future business leaders.”
Rothenberg’s experiences serve as a teaching tool.
Although he was also a faculty member at the California
Institute of Technology and University of Rochester, Rothenberg
says that working at Kellogg prompted him to put business
front and center.
In an academic atmosphere like the Kellogg School, it’s
easy to take a step back and assess the positive and negative
elements impacting the corporate world — and society
as a whole — today,” he says.
In conjunction with his work and teaching,
Rothenberg emphasizes the high stakes that are involved
for society and business.
For example, not only will our choices regarding biodiversity
impact the survival of species, or our decisions with
respect to greenhouse gases determine how much global
occur, he says, but the effects on how firms operate
are also certain to be dramatic.
Rothenberg plans to continue researching
these serious issues.
We are entering a world where dealing with environmental
considerations cannot be ignored,” he predicts. “I
want to prepare my students for that.”
About Professor Rothenberg
Prof. Rothenberg is a political scientist and expert
in public policy. He is co-director of the Ford Center
Global Citizenship at Kellogg and one of the Kellogg faculty
members who teach in the school’s Business and its
Social Environment major, for which he designed the course
Representative publications include: “Modeling Legislator
Decision-Making: An Historical Perspective” (with
Mitchell Sanders) in American Politics Research 30 (2002):236-265;
Why Governments Succeed and Why They Fail (with Amihai
Glazer), Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP (2001); and “Lame-duck
Politics: Impending Departure and the Votes on Impeachment” (with
Mitchell Sanders), Political Research Quarterly 53 (2000):523-536.