Motivations for Participating in a U.S. Voluntary Environmental Initiative: The Multi-state Working Group and EPA’s EMS Pilot Program


While many different types of organizations in the United States (U.S.) are better managing their environmental activities, a relatively small proportion of them are also choosing to participate in voluntary environmental initiatives. This study addresses why organizations participate in these programs and examines how motivations vary for different types of enterprises. It emphasizes the importance of external and internal factors that influenced three types of facilities’ (publicly traded, privately owned and government) decisions to participate in the Multi-State Working Group and the Environmental Protection Agency’s EMS Pilot Program. The results show that despite the vast differences among these enterprises, a common theme in their motivation was the importance of regulatory pressures, which supports the idea that these pressures encourage all organizations to behave similarly. The results also support the suggestions posited by the ‘natural’ resource-based view of the firm and show that continuous innovation and basic environmental management proficiencies are embedded in publicly traded facilities’ more advanced types of environmental management capabilities. Privately owned and government facilities, however, are lacking in these prior proficiencies, but appear to be fortifying their internal capacities by seeking external assistance from regulators, thus enabling them to participate in the voluntary environmental initiative.

Full Paper

Darnall N. 2003. Motivations for participating in a voluntary environmental initiative: the Multi-state Working Group and EPA’s EMS pilot program. Sharma S. & Starik M. (eds.) Research in Corporate Sustainability. Boston: Edward Elgar Publishing, 123-154.