Why firms mandate ISO 14001 certification


Thousands of facilities worldwide have certified to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001, the international environmen- tal management system standard, and previous research typically has studied these certification decisions at the facility level. However, significant anec- dotal evidence indicates that firms may have a strong role, and if so, prior studies may be drawing inappropriate conclusions about the rationale for ISO 14001 certification. Drawing on institutional theory and the resource-based view of the firm, this study offers a conceptual framework that explains why parent companies would mandate—rather than simply encourage—their operational units to certify to ISO 14001. The framework is tested using sur- vey data of corporate environmental managers. The results show that firms have a central role in nearly half of all facility-level certifications and that firms that mandate ISO 14001 endure greater external pressures and have stronger complementary resources and capabilities that support their organization-wide ISO 14001 policies.

Full Paper 

Darnall N. 2006. Why firms mandate ISO 14001 certification. Business & Society 45(3), 354-381.