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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Volume 79, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 142–154
Globalization has caused Chinese manufacturers to develop quickly while simultaneously meeting green barriers to export products. Whether internationalization has led to improved environmental management practices among Chinese manufacturers is also a related question. Using survey data collected from 377 Chinese manufacturers in four industrial sectors, we find that international institutional pressures positively relate to domestic environmentalism of Chinese manufacturers and their adoption of environmentally-related organizational learning practices. Environmental learning is a viable method for Chinese manufacturers to ease their environmental burdens by replicating environmental management practices of their foreign counterparts. On the policy side, the Chinese government should follow other developed countries efforts to deploy environmental regulations and policies, further motivating environmental awareness and responses in the manufacturing industry.
Business globalization has caused China to face numerous social and economic pressures. China's integration into the world's economy emerged over three decades ago, and saw substantial growth after its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2001. WTO membership has accelerated economic growth in China and increased the concern of Chinese enterprises, especially those export-oriented, about international requirements and relationships for their business . This economic integration made China, for good or bad, even more dependent upon international trade, particularly for manufacturing exporters. During this period, China has become the world's premier manufacturing center servicing global production demand. The commensurate emissions from servicing as the world's metaphorical engine for production of manufactured goods have generated substantial environmental burdens and resource scarcity within China . Local water and river pollution, regional acid rain, and global ozone depletion and climate change are environmental burdens influenced by China's increasing economic prowess . A central question pertaining to this phenomenon is whether internationalization has accelerated or weakened corporate response to environmental damage. This question is a part of a broader matter: does globalization with its increased bonds among nations actually benefit humankind or hurt it through excessive consumption of resources? On one side of this phenomenological debate is that pollution and environmental damage has increased due to growing international relationships and demand for manufactured goods. While others deem that pollution may have actually decreased due to cleaner production through environmental learning mechanisms from leading multinational companies that otherwise would have seen unfettered environmental damage . Internationalization brings opportunities for organizational learning among companies from different countries . Environmentally-oriented organizational learning (EOL), which can be defined as implementing corporate environmental management practices through acquisition and development of organizational knowledge , is a viable method for Chinese manufacturers to relieve environmental burdens by acquiring knowledge and learning from their foreign parent companies and counterparts . Greater environmental burdens from internationalization result in stronger policy as well as the implementation of stricter environmental laws and regulations in China. These environmental burdens have raised commensurate environmental awareness of the public on pollution prevention and resources conservation . Such growth in domestic environmentalism also promotes greater attention to environmental management practices such as EOL among Chinese manufacturers. Many studies have examined the effect of internationalization, especially concerning China's entry into the WTO, on economic development within China ,  and . Environmental impacts due to the WTO accession and related environmental negotiations have also been studied . Product manufacturers, particularly those in vibrant developing regions such as China, have been targeted as major polluters and energy consumers in their efforts to sustain economic growth. However, whether market internationalization affects environmental management practices among Chinese manufacturers still remains an inchoate field of study. These initial arguments set the stage for studying the various phenomena related to internationalization and EOL in China: 1) Internationalization is generally considered desirable for developing a country's economic growth. China, a major developing country, has been dedicated to encouraging manufacturers to export products and attracting foreign investment through various public policies including significant subsidies since its ‘open door’ policy of 1979. However, such internationalization has also brought relatively unanticipated amounts of environmental damage as well as resource and energy scarcity issues. 2) International ‘green barriers’ to product export outflow, in addition to increasing environmental issues and resource scarcity, have awakened the Chinese government and manufacturers to fully realize the importance of environmental protection and the need for resource and energy conservation in industrial activities. 3) A possible related phenomenon is EOL's capabilities in reducing environmental harm caused by growing industrial activities due to internationalization and thus balancing economic development with environmental preservation. 4) An alternative phenomenon that can be investigated is whether increased product export and foreign manufacturers operating in China are sources for environmental and energy concerns. That is whether a ‘race-to-the-bottom’ mentality is associated with this trend of internationalization in China. Based on the above-identified phenomena, we feel an urgent need to examine the relationship between internationalization and EOL through international and domestic environmentalism pressures to ease the ecological modernization concerns (balance and improve economic and environmental performance in industrial development). To achieve this research goal, we introduce some background of the internationalization and environmentalism evolution in China in Section 2. A conceptual model and theoretic development with three propositions related to the described phenomena are presented in Section 3. Data collection and basic statistical analysis methodology descriptions are introduced in Section 4 followed by results and discussions in Section 5. At the end of this paper, we summarize with conclusions provided in Section 6.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The opening of China to international trade has resulted in significant environmental burdens due to its rapid economic growth. Such developments have also promoted environmental management practices such as EOL to relieve these environmental damages. Chinese manufacturers tend to implement EOL due to international environmentalism if they export products or become suppliers of foreign companies operating in China. The need for exports has motivated (if not pressured) Chinese manufacturers to improve their environmental performance, accelerating modernization and more sustainable industrialization within China. Thus, we can argue that the phenomenon of greater internationalization and international trade is helpful for diffusing cleaner technologies and environmental standards to production activities among manufacturers in developing countries . International mimetic environmental pressure has the highest significant effect on EOL practices among Chinese manufacturers. Thus, an effective diffusion mechanism for environmental innovation is highly desirable for Chinese manufacturers such that they can learn from leading multinational enterprises. Developing such mechanisms may require either efforts by the Chinese government, international corporate partners, and individual or groups of domestic organizations. After China's entry into the WTO, manufacturers operating in China have also experienced the phenomenon of increasing domestic environmentalism due to indirect effects from developed countries. These findings provide implications for Chinese governments and manufacturers as well as international companies. Our empirical results show that after firm size, industry type, and ownership are controlled, domestic coercive environmental pressure had no significant effect on any of the seven EOL practices. It is consistent with the phenomenon that regulatory environmental policies in China are oriented towards initially targeting larger-sized organizations at specific industries and state-owned enterprises. As a long term strategy, the Chinese government should encourage all enterprises to implement EOL environmental practices. Even though smaller and private organizations are lagging in the implementation of EOL environmental practices in face of coercive pressures, they should better anticipate such trends and proactively initiate their efforts in environmental management to avoid risk losing the competition given increasing volume of environmental regulations are expected for enforcement in the years ahead. Chinese governments have enacted several aforementioned environmentally-based pressures for the implementation of environmental management practices by Chinese manufacturers. However, only with strong administration and enforcement can the regulations in China be effective . With increasing energy and environmental protection pressures, the Chinese government has realized that the economic development priority needs to be balanced with environmental protection. Learning both experiences and lessons from developed countries is a viable way for the Chinese government to develop stricter regulations and encourage policy deployment. Moreover, multinational enterprises have contributed to the Chinese economy, especially through their generally higher production efficiency . Even though arguments can be made that China serves as a pollution haven for multinational enterprises that operate in China  and , our findings show that internationalization contributes to a "raising the bar" phenomenon rather than competing in a "race to the bottom". Both central and local Chinese governments have managed to integrate environmental standards into their recruitment policies, which is important to keep economic development while protecting the environment. Further examination of this phenomenon shows that to sustain growth and increase foreign exports, Chinese manufacturers need to improve production efficiency and implement environmentally friendly management practices. Simultaneously, due to internationalization, Chinese manufacturers are presented with better opportunities to learn from their foreign competitors, especially those operating in China. Many foreign companies have preferred the establishment of international joint ventures (IJV) rather than foreign direct investment enterprises due to their lack of understanding on doing business in China. For example, automobile companies from Germany, the US and Japan have established IJV with the three largest automobile groups in China, namely, First Automobile Works Group in Changchun of Jilin Province, Dongfeng Motor Corporation in Wuhan of Hubei Province, and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation in Shanghai. As a result, IJVs in China are generally more proactive on environmental management practices with higher environmental awareness, where learning from their parent companies can be an effective way for these joint ventures to develop their own environmental strategies . Experiences of these IJVs can then be disseminated to other Chinese manufacturers. With internationalization, many multinational enterprises have operated their business in China due to a large potential market and cheaper labor costs. However, the business model such as implementing the same environmental strategy all over the world is important for these multinational enterprises to gain competitiveness when they expand into developing countries . As emergent markets mature, foreign companies will be viewed less as providers of capital and or technologies, but more as companies operating and contributing to economic growth and environmental improvements in developing countries . A strict environmental strategy by domestic Chinese manufacturers may increase costs in the short-term, but they can realize strategic benefits by further establishing their reputation and image. These strategic benefits will require responses from competitors. These intangible strategic benefits may also provide greater support from the Chinese government. Moreover, Chinese manufacturers have become important components of global supply chains. International companies, especially those with Chinese manufacturers involved as part of their supply chains, should pay attention to environmental and resource burdens in China, and thus potential disruption in the chain. Thus, we see the additional benefit of supply chain resiliency and the right to operate due to legitimate (environmentally sensitive) production. All these forces and potential reasons for greening organizational strategies within China should help motivate Chinese manufacturers to implement EOL practices. One major contribution of this study is knowledge advancement on the relationship between internationalization and EOL practices among Chinese manufacturers. This study lays a solid foundation for further research on internationalization and environmental learning in developing countries. Our empirical results provide insights for the Chinese government on balancing economic growth and environmental protection under a growing internationalization trend. There are also important implications on the benefits of establishing environmentally-related learning mechanisms between Chinese manufacturers and multinational enterprises for international supply chain management. Even with insights and implications from this study, several directions are worthy of further research investigation. First, we only performed regression analyses to examine direct and indirect effects of international environmental pressures on EOL practices among Chinese manufacturers. Mediation effects of domestic environmental pressure on the relationships between international environmental pressures and EOL practices may exist. Second, we only examined a one-way relationship between pressures and practices. In fact, the opposite feedback mechanism is also important, i.e., the adoption of environmental strategies may be a channel through which enterprises achieve better performance and reinforce their international positions. Third, our result indicates an assumption that the relative environmental burden on per unit manufacturing has also improved, which can be validated with objective secondary source data and quantitative analyses