Three Essays in Sustainable Operations Management: Climate Change Strategies, Safety, and the Role of Information on Conservation
In this thesis, we empirically examine different strategies that firms pursue to develop sustainable and safe operations. In the first chapter, we evaluate the profitability of carbon abatement projects that firms implement over time. We find that the average payback period and marginal abatement cost of carbon abatement opportunities do not deteriorate quickly, if at all. Firms that focus more on opportunities that are directly related to their core operations (e.g., optimizing production processes) experience more favorable payback trends compared to those that focus on opportunities that are not directly related to their core operations (e.g., lighting fixtures or building insulation). In the second chapter, we measure the impact of conducting Probabilistic Risk Assessments on safety performance at nuclear plants. We find that the adoption of risk assessments is associated with a 15% decrease in the frequency of safety-related events. We show that this is associated with a 1.6 billion USD increase in annual revenue from avoided lost production. In the third chapter, we examine the impact of automating bill payments on electricity conservation behavior. Many utility companies want to increase the convenience of paying the bill, but we find that there are unintended implications on energy conservation in doing so. We find that enrollment in automatic billing is associated with a 5% increase in energy use. This suggests that the way we pay our bills may influence the salience of electricity costs. We find evidence that providing real-time feedback may counteract this effect.