Forest Reinhardt opens Teale lecture series
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 01:09
The 16th year of the Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series began on Thursday in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, where Dr. Forest Reinhardt delivered a lecture entitled “The Natural Environment and the Strategy of Firms.”
Reinhardt is the John D. Black Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard College, an MBA from Harvard Business School and a doctorate in business economics from Harvard University.
The lecture began with Reinhardt connecting the environment to the business world. To demonstrate this interdisciplinary perspective, Reinhardt described how a current international concern is the prospect of resource depletion. The possibility that the world may be forced to exist without current necessities in the near future, Reinhardt said, is rapidly morphing from a distant fear to an imminent threat to an unfortunate reality.
To understand this danger in its state of actuality, Reinhardt applied it to fossil fuels and food. Both of these items are in high demand and overconsumption could potentially exhaust the supply of them. One way to regulate the consumption of these goods is by monitoring and altering their economic path through the free-market cycle.
Consumption is controlled by taxing these items, making them more expensive, and effectively, forcing the demand to decrease.
Reinhardt continued to examine this issue from a social perspective, examining the relationship between business and the government. He commented on the misconception that private goods are controlled by the firms and that public goods are controlled by the government. According to Reinhardt, people look less to the government for goods in comparison to firms, as the government is perceived as an unreliable entity.
Due to different views on where the economic initiative lies, the American public does not know who to turn to in terms of helping the environment, Reinhardt claimed. The government has played a big part of creating awareness or modifying the country’s habits for years. But as the presidential election approaches, it is not apparent whether environmental concerns are really on the agenda.
The speech concluded with Reinhardt affirming that environment stands as a priority for him. He stated that a solution exists to many of the issues. But the greater issue is whether it is economical to do so.