Taking the Existence Value seriously: new ways for firms to grasp Sustainable Development
Rambaud, Alexandre (2013), Taking the Existence Value seriously: new ways for firms to grasp Sustainable Development, 8ème Congrès RIODD, Lille, FRANCE
TypeCommunication / Conférence
Conference title8ème Congrès RIODD
MetadataShow full item record
Dauphine Recherches en Management [DRM]
Abstract (EN)The problem of inter-generational preservation and management of socio-environmental entities, like biodiversity, and so, the valuation of these entities for their own sake, is a central issue for sustainability. The ecocentric approach of Sustainable Development (SD) tackles this problematic by introducing the ethical concept of “intrinsic value” of an entity, which rests upon the question “should we treat this entity as an end in itself ?”. Besides, the orthodox conceptualization of SD, notably based on neoclassical economics, “translates” this intrinsic value into the economic notion of “existence value” of an entity. This value stems from the idea that individuals can have a benefit from “the mere knowledge that [this entity] is preserved or continues to exist” (in (Krutilla, 1967), independently of any use of it. Existence value is also a part of the Total Economic Value (cf (D. W. Pearce, Markandya, & Barbier, 1989) and, as notably argued by M. S. Common, R. K. Blamey and T. W. Norton, “existence value [...] is particularly [...] relevant to sustainability questions. [... Of the values of Total Economic Value], only existence value aligns directly with this concern”. (in (Common, Blamey, & Norton, 1993) In these conditions, in the first part of this talk, I will present the main arguments which make the existence value an essential ingredient of the orthodox approach of SD. I will then discuss the relevance to integrate this type of value into firms, notably into corporate accounting. I will stress the conceptual, economic and accounting issues raised by this incorporation, especially those related to the assessment of existence value. Indeed, existence value cannot be estimated on a market: only Contingent Valuations are able to reveal it, but this technique poses a problem of reliability. Now, SD is usually divided into three orientations (Gladwin, Kennelly, & Krause, 1995), (Stubbs& Cocklin, 2008) or (Clifton, 2010): an orthodox one, an ecocentric one and what we can call a Third Way, named the sustaincentric, reformist or ecological one, often described as the genuine sustainable approach. Thus, from the problematics raised in the first part, I will propose in a second part another approach to existence value and its integration into firms, in line with the third orientation of SD. In order to take the existence value seriously, this re-conceptualization will notably require a real ontological reflection in a Latourian way (Latour, 1999).
Subjects / KeywordsValeur de la vie
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