Global warming and sustainability: Understanding the beliefs of marketing faculty

Published date01 November 2018
Date01 November 2018
Global warming and sustainability: Understanding the beliefs of
marketing faculty
Joya A. Kemper
|Paul W. Ballantine
|C. Michael Hall
Department of Management, Marketing and
Entrepreneurship, UC Business School,
University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New
UC Business School, University of
Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
Joya A. Kemper, Department of Management,
Marketing and Entrepreneurship, UC Business
School, University of Canterbury, Private Bag
4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
Addressing climate change and sustainability topics in university research and teaching is
paramount; however, the majority of marketing studies and courses do not examine these
concepts. We investigate global warming beliefs and the sustainability values, attitudes, and
beliefs of marketing faculty to understand how these may impact upon the state of sustainability
research and teaching within the marketing academy. Using an online survey method, marketing
faculty were surveyed from around the world. We found that belief in global warming was high
and that this was affected by political ideology and research area. We also found broad percep-
tions of sustainability (i.e., beyond the environmental domain) in marketing faculty, possibly more
so than previous higher education studies have revealed. However, a greater belief in market
ideology to solve sustainability issues also exists. We found significant effects or associations
between gender, political ideology, religion, expertise, region of current residence, and region
of conferred highest degree on sustainability beliefs (definition, conception, and attitudes).
Considering that we find a high belief in global warming and a broad and holistic understanding
and positive attitude towards sustainability, questions remain about why only limited research
and teaching has been done on the intersection between marketing and sustainability.
Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time, and the produc-
tion of consumer goods has a significant impact on greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC],
2014). The climbing temperatures (atmospheric and ocean), rising sea
levels, and melting ice sheets from climate change affect all life on earth
(IPCC, 2014). The recent 2015 Paris Climate Summit demonstrated the
commitment by 195 countries to limit temperature increases to 1.5 °C.
However, climate change as a wicked problemone which lacks defini-
tion and scope and is a symptom of other problems (e.g., overconsump-
tion, reliance on fossil fuels)presents several challenges to preventing
heating beyond 1.5 °C, one of which is perceptions of global warming
(Rittel & Webber, 1973). For example, 67% of Americans believe that
global warming is happening, whereas 16% believe that it is not
happening, with the remaining 17% not being sure (Leiserowitz,
Maibach, RoserRenouf, Feinberg, & Rosenthal, 2015).
The overconsumption of products, and the very production, trans-
portation, and consumption of these goods, leads to increased GHG
emissions (Brundtland, 1987; IPCC, 2014). Moreover, industry contrib-
utes to approximately 31% of GHG emissions, transport 14%, and agri-
culture and land use 24% (IPCC, 2014). Consequently, sustainable
development (SD) requires society to take into account economic
practices on the natural and social environment (Borland & Lindgreen,
2013). SD has been proposed as the solution to various environmental,
social, and economic problems, and is defined as development that
meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs(Brundtland, 1987, p. 43).
Indeed, climate change is Goal 13 in the 2030 Agenda for Sustain-
able Development by the United Nations. At the very least, sustainabil-
ity requires a shift in our consumption patterns with an understanding
that the carrying capacity of the earth has already been surpassed
(Borland & Lindgreen, 2013). A more likely scenario is that society will
require a fundamental transformation of our relationship between
people and the planet, and the way we consume and produce
(Hopwood, Mellor, & O0Brien, 2005).
Global warming discussion has not yet entered mainstream
academic research in marketing. Considering that the production,
consumption, and transportation of goods is a leading cause of GHG
emissions, questions must be raised about the marketing academy0s
ability and willingness to engage in a meaningful discussion about
marketing0s role in GHG emissions, and how marketing can contribute
to global warming prevention.
At the forefront of this debate exists the contradictory nature of
sustainability, especially environmental sustainability, and marketing
(Varey, 2011). The question remains whether marketing, with its focus
Received: 25 April 2017 Accepted: 3 July 2017
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1664
J Public Affairs. 2018;18:e1664.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons, 1of8

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