Abstract: The Ecological Basis of the Industrial Enterprise: Resource Management in the German Pulp and Paper Industry, 1850-1930

Matthias Mutz


hroughout the age of industrialization, business enterprises and their rationales shaped the social use of the natural environment. Their (dirty) output, but also their raw material input and the necessary supply structures made them the crucial interface between exploiting and consuming natural resources. At the same time, co-evolution with the environment is an essential factor in the development of modern enterprises. Looking at the case of Saxon pulp and paper mills, the paper does not only give an account of the business-environment connection during the period of industrialization, but also highlights the ecological basis of modern industrial enterprises. Here, the paper aims at a history of conflicts and organizational development. Overcoming space by transport of goods, optimizing material flows or investing in sewage treatment plants tied material and immaterial resources of every paper-producing company, thus, affecting its chances of success significantly. The logic of industrial mass production, transformed the natural environment into the object of standardization and regulation, which led to its increasing vertical integration in the enterprise. In the end, industrialization never meant that business could overcome and ignore its environmental relations, but that they became one of its central objectives.