تاثیر فشار سهامداران ثانویه بر ایزو 14001
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|6056||2013||8 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 47, May 2013, Pages 245–252
Independent third party certification has been proposed as a governance mechanism to control for unobservable practices of firms, such as green practices. Although showing some promise, it has been also argued that the challenge of independent third party certification is to force firms to embrace certifications in substance (hence to internalize the certifications in daily practice) not only to adopt certifications in a symbolic manner. This paper investigates whether the pressure from secondary stakeholders can assist with this challenge. We study this problem in the context of ISO 14001 certification. Based on a study of a sample of 328 Australian and New Zealand firms, we found that ISO 14001 certificate is being accepted by secondary stakeholders as a sufficient signal of firms' environmental efforts. In other words, firms, which experience pressure from secondary stakeholders to adopt the standard, find reputational benefits from the mere fact that they are certified. At the same time, the study also shows that the pressure from secondary stakeholders is not contributing to the internalization of ISO 14001. Firms do not put extra effort into the management of their environmental systems just because they experience stakeholders' pressure to get certified. In line with the findings from other studies, we found that firms that internalize ISO 14001 do also report environmental benefits such as reduced pollution or reduced energy consumption yet the pressure from secondary stakeholders is not contributing to such improvements.
Stakeholders' pressure seems to act as a powerful source in forcing firms to account for and improve their externalities (Jun et al., 2008). This pressure could be stemming from both primary and secondary stakeholder groups and stakeholders use various methods to enforce the uptake of environmental practices. For instance, primary stakeholders, such as business partners, may mandate sound green practices from their suppliers. Secondary stakeholders, such as NGOs and industry watch dogs, may use media to organise boycotts of firms and to pursue negative media campaigns on polluting firms and supply chains (Conroy, 2007). In response to pressures from primary and secondary stakeholders, firms address environmental issues and often opt to seek independent third party certifications to gain an independent verification of their efforts. In doing so, firms signal to their stakeholders that environmental issues are being addressed. This approach became very common in environmental management: firms seek certifications for various green issues such as carbon management (CarboNZero), green buildings (LEED) or environmental management systems (ISO 14001). Even though independent third party certifications show some promising results in environmental management, the challenges and drawbacks grow alongside the widespread adoptions of environmental certifications. Research shows that firms often opt for symbolic implementations; i.e. they adhere to minimum requirements of respective certifications without efforts being made to substantially change their practices (Christmann and Taylor, 2006). In other words, the quality of implementation varies amongst adopting firms. Consequently, scholars argued that certifications could be mere signals that environmental management is in place rather than an account for actual environmental performance (King et al., 2005). In practice, certification and accreditation bodies have also recognised the need to address the quality of implementation. Lal (2004), for instance, argues that certification and accreditation bodies need to force firms to embrace certifications beyond the minimum requirements and to force the managers to demonstrate improvements in actual performance. Given that firms respond to stakeholders' pressure by getting certified and given that independent third party certification is in need to force firms to embrace certifications in substance, we combine these two areas and seek an understanding of the influence of stakeholder pressure on the quality of implementation. Specifically, we focus on secondary stakeholders. Unlike primary stakeholders (such as supply chain partners), secondary stakeholders (such as media or NGOs) do not have a direct stake in firms' transactions and their role is that of a control – a focus of our study. We ask: can secondary stakeholders force firms to substantially address environmental certifications? Do firms internalize the requirements of certifications if under the pressure from secondary stakeholders? Or do firms actually enjoy reputational benefits from having a certificate – regardless of how the requirements are actually internalized? In this paper, we investigate this issue within the context of ISO 14001 certification. ISO 14001 represent a relevant context for our research question: it is an environmental standard, which relies on independent third party certification. It is also a widely adopted standard and in fact one of the largest certification schemes in the world. ISO 14001 has also attracted a substantial interest from multiple stakeholders – inclusive of secondary stakeholders. It has been reported that some stakeholders put firms under pressure to get certified against ISO 14001 whereas others are critical about the certification and its impact on the adopting firms. In a nutshell, ISO 14001 provides an excellent context to conduct a study on the effect of secondary stakeholder pressure on independent third party certification.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
A number of insights can be drawn from this empirical study. First of all all, the study has revealed that the pressure from secondary stakeholders does contribute to the adoption of ISO 14001. Firms feel the pressure from the secondary stakeholders and in response adopt the standard. In doing so, the firms enjoy reputational benefits (supporting H1). The findings therefore suggest that, for secondary stakeholders, obtaining certification is in fact a symbol for “environmentally-conscious” firms. However, the pressure from secondary stakeholders does not contribute to the internalization of ISO 14001 (negating H2). It means that the pressure does not force firms to embed certifications substantially into their daily practice; rather, the pressure is for firms to get certified. Combining the results of H1 and H2, it is evident that firms pursuing ISO 14001 certification in response to pressure from secondary stakeholders will be focused on the reputational value of certification rather than on the operational value (Nawrocka et al., 2009; Staw and Epstein, 2000). This could well result in the case where firms would adopt minimalist or superficial approach to compliance with the requirements of ISO 14001 as they are focused on attaining the certification rather than on building a solid environmental management system in a firm (Gonzales-Benito et al., 2011). Secondly, the study confirms that internalization of independent third party certifications in firms has a positive effect on operational performance of firms (supporting H3). In other words, firms, which embed the requirements of certifications in their daily operations, gain improvements in their pollution and other environmental performance measures. Our finding is in line with other studies in this area such as Nair and Prajogo (2009) and Naveh and Marcus (2005). However, the research has shown that internalization in firms does not directly lead to reputational benefits from certifications (negating H4). It seems that firms do not reap direct reputational rewards by embracing the standard in substance. However, considering that operational benefit has a significant effect on reputational benefits (supporting H5), we still can hold that internalization will eventually lead to reputational benefits via operational benefits. In other words, the effect of internalization of EMS to reputational benefits is mediated by operational benefits. This concurs with the primary intent of ISO 14001 – that is to build a solid environmental management system which will result in environmental benefits which will in turn lead to reputational benefits. We believe that this is the appropriate path, which firms need to go through as far as the adoption of ISO 14001 is concerned. These findings also have important ramifications for ISO 14001 and for independent third party certifications in general. First of all, it seems that ISO 14001 is trustworthy control mechanism and that secondary stakeholders seem to be satisfied with and confident about signalling accuracy of ISO 14001. These findings are in line with the literature. For instance, previous studies have confirmed superiority of independent third party certifications (i.e. Darnall and Sides, 2008) in comparison to other mechanisms such as self-reporting. Research also reports that standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) are superior to standards developed by industry associations (for instance, a chemical industry's Responsible Care Program (King and Lenox, 2000). These academic findings are matched by the research of watchdog organisations (i.e. TerraChoice, 2010) who also argue for superiority of ISO standards. Overall, it seems that ISO standards and certifications are still an acceptable option for secondary stakeholders – despite the surfacing criticism from some stakeholder groups (Balzarova and Castka, 2012; Castka and Balzarova, 2008a and Castka and Balzarova, 2008b). Furthermore, our research reveals that the pressure from secondary stakeholders does not serve as a further reinforcing mechanism of independent third party certifications. Independent third party certifications, despite being seen as superior in comparison to other mechanisms, are still in need of improvements (Castka and Balzarova, 2008a,b). One of the improvements is to force organisations to embed the certificates substantially and to go beyond compliance (Karapetrovic and Willborn, 2001; Lal, 2004). It seems that the pressure from secondary stakeholders will not act as a catalyst for this change. It rather seems that the pressure from secondary stakeholders acts as a normative force (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983). In other words, secondary stakeholders, by accepting the signal from certifications, further add to certifications' legitimacy rather than to challenge their deficiencies. From the stakeholder theory view point, this study contributes to the understanding of how secondary stakeholders contribute to the implementation of environmental practices (Sarkis et al., 2011). Specifically, the findings of this study demonstrate that the pressure from secondary stakeholders forces firms to pursue reputational benefits without committing significant efforts and resources to the internalization of the standard. Coupled with institutional theory, this finding confirms that solely pursuing normative legitimacy makes firms abandon the genuine intent and benefits of the adopted innovation (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983), including ISO 14001. From the Resource-Based View (RBV), the study explains the variance of environmental performance between the adopters of sustainable practices (Sarkis et al., 2011). Specifically, this study shows that there is a variation in terms of the degree of environmental benefits seen by the ISO 14001 adopters – despite the fact that adopters follow universal requirements to be certified to the standard. In this case, the internalization process is shown to be the explanatory factor for this variation. From RBV perspective, the internalization process entails unique practices, which involve complex elements within organizations (people, culture, system, technologies, etc.). Also, the internalization process will be confined to the internal boundary of the organizations in their daily practices, and, therefore, is relatively hidden from external parties. Such a complexity and “internality” makes the practices difficult to be imitated by competitors; thus, producing variations between ISO 14001 adopters in terms of environmental and operational benefits. 6.1. Limitations and further study Our research has been limited by its context (ISO 14001 certification) and by the data collection method (self-reported data collected through a survey). We propose that future research builds incrementally on our study and addresses these limitations. Further research should go beyond ISO 14001 and should investigate the effect of pressure from secondary stakeholders in other certification schemes. For instance, certifications in sustainable forestry (i.e. FSC, SFI) or in industry led certifications (such as Responsible Care Program) may deepen our understanding of the phenomenon. Such studies of single certification schemes may naturally lead to comparative studies of multiple certifications. There are differences between certification schemes and it is plausible that the differences will impact on the effect of a pressure from secondary stakeholders. For instance, some certifications may allow free-riding of participating members whereas others may prevent it by installing rigorous control mechanism (Darnall and Carmin, 2005). ISO 14001's signalling accuracy, studied in this paper, has been seen as a “better” one in comparison to other external certifications (Darnall and Sides, 2008) and ISO 14001 is also been seen as effective because “its broad positive standing with external audiences provides a reputational benefit” (Potoski and Prakash, 2005). Yet this may not be the case with other certifications. Certifications may also have different governance models and various scopes and objectives (see for instance Balzarova and Castka (2012) or Buthe and Mattli (2011) for a taxonomy of certifications). Further work can explain how pressures form secondary stakeholders vary in-between certification schemes. It would be also useful to provide more detailed insight of the impact of secondary stakeholders' pressure on certified firms. For instance, a series of case studies could provide more nuanced view of managerial decision making (i.e. how and why managers decide to respond to stakeholder pressure? what certification schemes do they choose and why?) and on the impact on firms' operations (i.e. what type of stakeholder pressure leads to more substantial changes in firms' operations?). Such studies can be done in a single context (i.e. ISO 14001 as in this study) or in a multiple context (i.e. a study in the context where firms have a choice of multiple certifications and have to choose between competing certification schemes). Our study has also relied on the data from one geographical area (Australia and New Zealand). Further studies can investigate this problem in other countries and could also account for the differences in between countries (i.e. taking into account variations of environmental awareness in a given country or variations of stringency of local legislation). In particular, further studies should look at the interplay between mandatory legislation and voluntary certifications and investigate the phenomenon in question in this context. All this future work would further contribute to the understanding of voluntary certifications and their ability to assist with environmental management in firms.