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  • 1 Institute of World Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
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The purpose of the paper is to explain the widely-observed phenomenon that the benefits of some apparently environmentally friendly solutions are much smaller than predicted. The applied research method is a systematic review of papers belonging to the ‘business and environment’ and ‘environmental science and technology’ literatures. Qualitative and interpretive research is used to support our propositions. Five key concepts accounting for the pitfalls associated with environmental sustainability-oriented (ESO) interventions have been identified and illustrated with reallife examples. Overlooked (1) interconnections among resources and environmental impacts, e.g. trade-offs, reveal that (2) system boundaries are often ill-defined, which can easily result in (3) problem shifting from one aspect of corporate environmental performance to another or from one stage in the life cycle to another. Additionally, false (4) assumptions and a strong (5) contextuality of best practices also overshadow the outcomes of ESO interventions. The relation among these general concepts is analysed and a graphic representation is provided.

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