IBERDROLA: A Utility’s Approach to Sustainability and Stakeholder Management
Tanguy Jacopin, Serge Poisson-de Haro, and Joan Fontrodona
Center for Business in Society (CBS), IESE Business School, Spain and HEC Montréal, Canada
Volume 5: 2008, pp. 113-138; ABSTRACT
This case examines how IBERDROLA, Spain’s leading electricity supplier, shifted the company’s strategic focus to concentrate on sustainability and turned it into a source of competitive edge in a liberalized market. Largely pre-empting the industry obligations that came out of the Kyoto agreement, IBERDROLA decided to put sustainability at the heart of the company’s decision-making processes. IBERDROLA sold off its most polluting facilities and all non-core activities to concentrate on becoming the greenest player on the market. Its success was due to its willingness to walk the talk, to get stakeholders on side, and to demonstrate its determination to be a corporate citizen. An important element of the strategy was to establish a working relationship with important NGOs and effect their involvement with IBERDROLA’s activities. An early and uneasy partnership with WWF/Adena over the production of green energy proved a sharp learning curve for both parties. Then in 2004 a relatively minor event triggered a chain of reactions that led to a revolution in the company’s policy of stakeholder integration. A small group of protected birds was killed when they flew into the blades at one of IBERDROLA’s wind power facilities. When previous similar crises had occurred, IBERDROLA had dealt with them through the time-honoured methods of dialogue and confrontation. This time, IBERDROLA decided to initiate a new approach. They invited SEO/BIRDLIFE (the Spanish Ornithology Society), the oldest Spanish NGO dedicated to the environment, to undertake a study into the implications of similar installations on bird conservation and the environment. The intention is for this collaboration to lead to a strategic agreement between both parties.