Why U.S. Firms Certify to ISO 14001: An Institutional and Resource-based View


While numerous studies have emerged that study the motivations for firms to participate in voluntary environmental programs (VEPs), little attention has been given to why firms go a step further to “certify” their environmental actions. Moreover, previous VEP studies have generally considered the institutional pressures that motivate companies’ environmental decisions, while ignoring the internal factors. This study explores both the institutional pressures and internal competencies that comprise firms’ decisions certify their environmental management system (EMS) to ISO 14001, the international EMS standard. It compares adopters to non- adopters and uses a hazard model to predict empirically which firms were early adopters of ISO 14001. The results indicate that early adopters endured greater coercive pressures from regulatory and social actors. Early adopters also had greater capabilities with management systems and pollution prevention strategies.

Full Paper

Darnall N. 2003. Why firms certify to ISO 14001: an institutional and resource-based view. Nagao D (ed). Best Paper Proceedings: Sixty-First Meeting of the Academy of Management. Washington, DC: Academy of Management, pp. A1-A6.