روشن تر کردن گواهینامه ممیزی ایزو 14001
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|6058||2013||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9560 کلمه|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 51, 15 July 2013, Pages 88–98
This article analyses the extent to which the ISO 14001 certification audit can be considered as an independent and rigorous process ensuring organizational conformance with the standard and improved environmental performance. Although the ISO 14001 certification process and external recognition are based on external audits, the rigor, focus and reliability of these audits tend to be taken for granted and have been largely overlooked in the literature. Moreover, the experience of auditors and ISO 14001 professionals has rarely been taken into account in the literature. As a result, the reasons why organizations which have superficially implemented the ISO 14001 standard have succeeded in becoming certified remain unclear. This article describes a qualitative study conducted in Canada with thirty-six professionals involved in ISO 14001 certification audits, and sheds light on the rather elastic interpretation and application of this standard, with a focus on procedural rather than substantive aspects of the Environmental Management System. The findings call into question the prevailing opinion on the rather objective, rigorous and unambiguous nature of ISO 14001 certification audits.
ISO 14001 has become the most popular and frequently used international standard for implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS), an infrastructure to manage the organization's interaction with the environment (González-Benito et al., 2011). Since its launch in 1996, ISO 14001 certification has experienced intensive growth on the international stage: by the end of 2011, 267,457certificates had been issued in 158 countries (ISO, 2012). In the period from 2000 to 2010 the number of certificates issued worldwide increased nearly 11-fold, although there are differences in the growth rate of certification depending on countries and sectors of activity (Marimon et al., 2011). The theoretical academic literature stresses that the external audit component is a cornerstone of the entire ISO 14001 system (Kuhre, 1996; Ammenberg et al., 2001; Potoski and Prakash, 2005). Furthermore, some empirical works on the adoption of ISO 14001, such as the study by Babakri et al. (2003), have identified that these external audits are one of the elements that need the greatest effort on the part of certified companies. Surprisingly, very few empirical works on this issue has been published, although the number of certified organization has continued to grow significantly across the world. With few exceptions (Ammenberg et al., 2001; Zutshi and Sohal, 2002), this issue has thus not been analyzed in depth. Moreover, those few works were based on field-work carried out at a time when the diffusion of ISO 14001 was in its early phase (Casadesús et al., 2008), and criteria for adopting and auditing ISO 14001 were less developed (Ammenberg et al., 2001). No recent empirical study has analyzed in depth the characteristics of ISO 14001 external environmental audits, while a set of empirical works have explored external audits based on other management standards, notably ISO 9001 (e.g. Beckmerhagen et al., 2004; Poksinska et al., 2006; Power and Terziovski, 2007; Bernardo et al., 2010). These empirical works must be taken into account as the framework and underlying rules of the ISO 14001 standard are quite similar to others certifiable standards such as ISO 9001 (Hillary, 1998; Wealleans, 2005). Nevertheless, even when taking the empirical works on ISO 9001 into account, the literature on certification audits remains quite limited and essentially focused on the implementation of ISO standard inside certified organizations. The experience of professionals involved in the certification process is rarely taken into account, notably with regard to the ISO 14001 standard. This paper focuses on this experience and is intended to answer the following questions: - To what extent are ISO 14001 external audits objective, rigorous and unambiguous? - To what extent are the external audits of ISO 14001 carried out from a consulting or a conformance perspective? - To what extent do ISO 14001 external audits focus on substantial improvements of environmental performance rather than EMS procedural aspects? The rest of the paper is organized as follows. The next section presents the main conceptual framework related to the external environmental audits. The main concepts, approaches and standards related to environmental audits are analyzed. The literature on ISO 9001 audits is also reviewed. The section on methods describes the approach applied for collecting and analyzing data. Finally, the main results of the field work are summarized. The final section presents the main contributions and implications of the article
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This article makes a contribution to the literature by shedding light on the rigorousness, trustworthiness and implications of ISO 14001 external audits, drawing on the experience of practitioners involved in the certification process. Our findings call into question the prevailing opinion on the rigor and effectiveness of the certification process. ISO 14001 certification audits appear far from unambiguous and objective (Research question 1). Generally speaking, the ISO 14001 audit process appears very elastic, due to the complex issues involved, unreliability of sources of information on which the certification is based, and adaptation to organizational contingencies such as size and resources (Research question 2). These results explain why auditors tend to interpret and apply the ISO 14001 standard heterogeneously (Ammenberg et al., 2001), with a consulting perspective. Nevertheless, this elasticity does not seem to undermine the separation between consulting and conformance perspectives, which is a key element to prevent conflicts of interest. Although these results contradict the findings of others studies (Rissanen, 2000; Rajendran and Devadasan, 2005; Poksinska et al., 2006), the literature on this issue has focused on the ISO 9001 standard and remains exploratory. ISO 14001 certification audits could thus be less prone to overlap and conflicts of interest with consulting activities because it is less widely disseminated than ISO 9001, where competition between auditors and consultants tends to be stronger. Nevertheless, because ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 audits are both based on the same standards and are often carried out by the same certification bodies, it is unlikely that the ethical issues concerning auditor independence are very different. The extent of these ethical problems is hard to quantify, because practitioners involved in certification audits exhibit social desirability bias (Tourangeau and Yan, 2007; Arnold and Feldman, 1981). In contrast with this finding, this study clearly indicates that audits have a procedural rather than a substantive focus (Research question 3), which raises serious questions about the significance and reliability of the ISO 14001 certification process. This process focuses on documents provided by organizations, whatever their real environmental impact. The ISO 14001 certificate can thus hardly be considered, in itself, as a reliable signal of environmental greening but is external recognition that a structured EMS has been implemented. Our findings on this procedural perspective and lack of substance of certification audits may explain why, in many cases, the adoption of ISO 14001 is more symbolic than substantial (Qadir and Gorman, 2008; Aravind and Christmann, 2011; Boiral, 2007, 2012). In the absence of clear and thorough analysis of environmental performance during certification audits, organizations need not necessarily implement substantial changes to reduce their environmental impact, especially if the adoption of ISO 14001 is mostly driven by external pressures. These results are in line with the main assumptions of neo-institutional approaches to ISO certification, which suggest symbolic adoption of the standard, a focus on procedures and paperwork, and a lack of rigor (Christmann and Taylor, 2006; Boiral, 2003; Walgenbach, 2001; Heras-Saizarbitoria and Boiral, 2013). Generally speaking, ISO 14001 certification tends to appear as a rational myth, that is to say a practice perceived as legitimate and rational but which is superficially implemented and verified in response to institutional pressures (Meyer and Rowan, 1977; Boiral, 2007). Whatever the motivations underlying the adoption of ISO 14001 by organizations (see, for a review, Heras-Saizarbitoria et al., 2011), the lack of rigor, procedural focus and external legitimacy of certification audits tends to reinforce this rational myth. Contrary to others neo-institutional approaches on ISO certification, this study is not focused on organizations themselves but on the perceptions of auditors and others professionals surrounding the certification process. These perceptions are essential to understanding the way the ISO certificate is obtained and its possible impact on environmental performance. One of the main contributions of this paper is thus to shed light on the way certification audits, far from preventing the superficial adoption of the ISO 14001 standard, contribute to the spread of procedural environmental practices that emphasize paperwork rather than internal efficiency. From this perspective, ISO 14001 certification is seen as a sort of “organizational degree” (Boiral, 2012) that can be quite easily obtained after a perfunctory final exam (certification audit), and is unlikely to address critical environmental issues. This lack of substance in the certification process not only questions the way external audits are conducted but, more fundamentally, the raison d’être and main propositions of the ISO 14001 standard which focuses on documented procedures. As stated by one ISO 14001 consultant interviewed: “If you examine the basis of ISO 14001, it is not intended to address critical environmental issues. It is intended to implement and verify a management system. We must see the duration of the audit, the information supplied by organizations… this is not always done seriously. The problem is the superficiality associated with the auditor's task, which is focused on the verification of a system” (Consultant 3). This procedural focus of ISO 14001 audits may have become stronger over the last few years. As De Moor and De Beelde (2005) note, environmental auditing has increasingly focused on the evaluation of systems rather than on performance. As a result, the typical structure of an environmental audit is more and more similar to that of a financial statement audit. Although the role of the auditors on this aspect can be criticized, the failure of the ISO certification audits to address substantial environmental issues is a failure of the weakest link of the system. As Ammenberg and Sundin (2005) observed, external environmental auditors have a very important role in this arena, since they can function as both a driver and a barrier for the integration and development of standardized EMSs. From this perspective, the qualification and training of external auditors are essential to promote a substantial implementation of ISO 14001 inside organizations. The results of this study show that auditing practices do not encourage this type of implementation in certified Canadian organizations. Our study is focused on Canadians professionals, and although the organizational field in which meta-standards such as ISO 14001 have been disseminated is global, the specific conditions in other countries and regions may alter the findings. Consequently, an interesting avenue for future research would be to carry out the same type of study in others countries where the situation could be different. Another interesting avenue for future research would be to analyze in depth the impacts of auditors' qualification and training on the certification process. To what extent does auditor training encourage a procedural implementation of ISO standards? To what extent does the audit focus influences environmental performance of certified organizations? What type training would be necessary to support a focus on performance improvement rather than procedures conformance? What are the similarities and differences in auditor training and competences from one country to another? What are the implications of these differences for organizations and the reliability of ISO certification? The findings of this study have serious implications for managers and stakeholders concerned with ISO 14001-based EMSs. Managers should use the ISO 14001 as leverage for internal improvements and clarify with certification bodies the content and form of external audits in order to be more focused on the substance rather than the form. The improvement of environmental practices and performance should be the main focus of an ISO 14001 EMS and certification audit alike. A focus on performance indicators and critical environmental issues should reinforce the efficiency of the ISO 14001 system and its credibility inside organizations as well as among external stakeholders. External stakeholders should not take the efficiency of ISO 14001 for granted. The adoption of EMSs based on internationally accepted standards such as ISO 14001 and EMAS continues to be subsidized by governments in many regions, especially in the European Union. This type of public funding and support tends to make certification an end in itself rather than a tool for internal improvement. Therefore, as recently stressed by Lannelongue and González-Benito (2012), public administrations should reconsider their policies for fomenting EMSs. Finally, certification bodies and the International Organization for Standardization should adopt a more substantive approach with regard to standard implementation and verification. For example, the promotion of stakeholder inclusiveness could be an avenue for refocusing the ISO 14001 standard on critical issues rather than procedures. As stated by the Global Reporting Initiative Standard (GRI, 2006: 10): “The reporting organization should identify its stakeholders and explain in the report how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests”. The same rationale could be adopted within the framework of the ISO 14001 system. From this perspective, auditors would have to verify the way organizations have taken into account, in practical terms, external pressures or critical issues (complaints of citizens, expert reports, press articles, environmental lawsuits, etc.) and not only limit themselves to the internal documentation provided by organizations. The ISO 19011 requirements concerning auditors' qualifications and training could also be revised and be more demanding with regard to auditors' environmental training, competences and values. The latest version of this standard (ISO, 2011b) remains very generic and covers different disciplines such as transportation safety, environmental management, quality management, information security, and health and safety. As a result, the description of environmental knowledge and skills remains quite elliptic and could be much more clearly defined in order to reinforce the professionalization of environmental auditors.