Environmental management systems : towards a research process for understanding its uptake by New Zealand companies
Environmental Management Systems (EMS) is a system-based standard which formalises environmental management in organisations, particularly companies. EMS is not the only or necessarily the best option to improve environmental performance in companies. EMS also cannot guarantee increased environmental performance. However, it does create incentives for implementing environmental improvements. Consequently, EMS may well play an important role in the 'option-mix' for increasing environmental performance of companies. The currently low uptake of EMS by New Zealand companies needs to be speeded up if EMS is to be effective. In order to find out which kinds of initiatives are suitable to accelerate the uptake, the reasons for adopting EMS or not, must be understood. The possible reasons are already identified in the existent literature. These are, for example, regulatory compliance, improved company image or high time and cost requirements. The report summarises these reasons. Additionally, the report provides different layers to identify the main directions of influences among reasons. Each reason belonging to an outer layer influences the reasons belonging to an inner layer. From the outside to the inside, these layers are 'situational context', 'values of stakeholders', 'company characteristics', and 'outcome'. An additional layer, 'knowledge', influences and is influenced by all other layers. The key reasons for taking up EMS and their interactions are currently not known, so research is necessary. Research requires knowledge about methods. The report identifies the main classes of social research methods and provides insight into their applicability for researching the reasons for taking up EMS. Because the research into each reason has different purposes, different methods and designs are necessary, leading to several research steps. A planned structure is needed to set out the overall order and purpose of each research step, thus creating a research process. This report provides such a process. The research process uses the possible reasons influencing the uptake of EMS as a starting point. The key reasons are defined as those which are perceived as such by the company leaders. Therefore, the first main step in the research process is the research of perceived reasons. A mail questionnaire in combination with focus groups and case studies might be considered appropriate to identifying perceived key reasons, and their interrelationships. The research into the actual situation is the next main step in the research process. Only the perceived key reasons need to be further researched with regard to their actual situation. The research of the reasons belonging to an outer layer need to be carried out prior to the research of the reasons belonging to an inner layer, so that the scope of the research might be reduced. Based on research questions and available information sources, the report gives options of appropriate methods for researching each of the possible reasons. The comparison between perceived key reasons and the actual situation will show which initiatives can be appropriate for speeding up the uptake of EMS. The research process can be used for implementation by a researcher. Additionally, it can also be used by organisations interested in speeding up the uptake of EMS in three ways. Firstly, they can use their knowledge about the process to commission appropriate research into the reasons inhibiting the uptake. Secondly, they can use the results obtained from the implementation of the research process to develop initiatives which specifically and effectively address the key reasons inhibiting the EMS uptake, and their nature and interconnections. Lastly, they can use the research results to strategically integrate initiatives for accelerating the uptake of EMS with initiatives which use other approaches to increase environmental performance. Consequently, the developed research process and the according initiatives can lead to a better option-mix for improving the environmental performance of companies.... [Show full abstract]
KeywordsEnvironmental Management Systems (EMS); environmental performance; environmental management; environmental policy; EMS standards; Integrated Environmental Management (IEM)
Fields of Research050205 Environmental Management
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