IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Greening the Supply Chain: When Is Customer Pressure Effective?


  • Magali Delmas
  • Ivan Montiel


"Suppliers face increasing pressure from their customers to improve their environmental performance. When firms downstream in the supply chain seek to achieve such improvements themselves, they frequently request that their suppliers adopt greener practices. This paper investigates the rationale for suppliers to comply with or resist the mandate of their customers to adopt the international environmental management standard ISO 14001 in the North American automotive industry. We argue that the effectiveness of such a mandate will vary according to the characteristics of the relationship between suppliers and customers. We contrast and test hypotheses based on both transaction cost and information theories to suggest that suppliers, whether in a dependent or distant relationship with their customers, have incentives to comply with the requests of their customers but through different mechanisms. Our study analyzed the characteristics of 3,152 automotive suppliers located in the United States, Canada, and Mexico over the 2000-2003 period. Findings indicate that suppliers with highly specialized assets, as well as younger suppliers, suppliers headquartered in Japan, and those reporting to the Toxic Release Inventory, are more likely to respond to their customers' pressures to adopt the certified management standard ISO 14001." Copyright (c) 2009, The Author(s) Journal Compilation (c) 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • Magali Delmas & Ivan Montiel, 2009. "Greening the Supply Chain: When Is Customer Pressure Effective?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 171-201, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:18:y:2009:i:1:p:171-201

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Crampes, Claude & Hollander, Abraham, 1995. "Duopoly and quality standards," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 71-82, January.
    2. Stephen Noel Broadberry & John Wallis, 2017. "Growing, Shrinking and Long Run Economic Performance: Historical Perspectives on Economic Development," Economics Series Working Papers 154, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    3. Cason, Timothy N. & Gangadharan, Lata, 2002. "Environmental Labeling and Incomplete Consumer Information in Laboratory Markets," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 113-134, January.
    4. Heyes, Anthony G. & Maxwell, John W., 2004. "Private vs. public regulation: political economy of the international environment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 978-996, September.
    5. Cremer, Helmuth & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1994. "Commodity Taxation in a Differentiated Oligopoly," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 35(3), pages 613-633, August.
    6. Brekke, Kjell Arne & Kverndokk, Snorre & Nyborg, Karine, 2003. "An economic model of moral motivation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1967-1983, September.
    7. Cremer, Helmuth & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1999. "On the taxation of polluting products in a differentiated industry," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 575-594, March.
    8. Lambertini, Luca & Mosca, Manuela, 1999. "On the Regulation of a Vertically Differentiated Market," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(4), pages 354-366, December.
    9. Petrakis Emmanuel & Sartzetakis Eftichios Sophocles & Xepapadeas Anastasios, 2005. "Environmental Information Provision as a Public Policy Instrument," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-33, November.
    10. Ibanez, Lisette & Stenger, Anne, 2000. "Environment and Food Safety in Agriculture: Are Labels Efficient?," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(4), pages 452-464, December.
    11. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Schilizzi, Steven G.M., 2003. "Quality Signaling through Certification. Theory and an Application to Agricultural Seed Market," IDEI Working Papers 165, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    12. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
    13. Oren Bar-Gill & Chaim Fershtman, 2005. "Public Policy with Endogenous Preferences," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 7(5), pages 841-857, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ivan Montiel & Bryan Husted, 2009. "The Adoption of Voluntary Environmental Management Programs in Mexico: First Movers as Institutional Entrepreneurs," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 88(2), pages 349-363, September.
    2. Susan A. Kayser & John W. Maxwell & Michael W. Toffel, 2014. "Signaling without Certification: The Critical Role of Civil Society Scrutiny," Harvard Business School Working Papers 15-009, Harvard Business School, revised Jul 2016.
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:9:p:1675-:d:112546 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Chonnikarn Fern Jira & Michael W. Toffel, 2011. "Engaging Supply Chains in Climate Change," Harvard Business School Working Papers 12-026, Harvard Business School, revised Oct 2012.
    5. Crifo, Patricia & Diaye, Marc-Arthur & Pekovic, Sanja, 2016. "CSR related management practices and firm performance: An empirical analysis of the quantity–quality trade-off on French data," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 171(P3), pages 405-416.
    6. Clougherty, Joseph A. & Grajek, Michal & Shy, Oz, 2016. "Taking 'Some' of the Mimicry Out of the Adoption Process: Quality-Management and Strategic Substitution," CEPR Discussion Papers 11661, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Susan A. Kayser & John W. Maxwell & Michael W. Toffel, 2014. "Supply chain screening without certification: The critical role of stakeholder pressure," Working Papers 2014-08, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    8. Grimm, Jörg H. & Hofstetter, Joerg S. & Sarkis, Joseph, 2014. "Critical factors for sub-supplier management: A sustainable food supply chains perspective," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 159-173.
    9. Ullah, Barkat & Wei, Zuobao & Xie, Feixue, 2014. "ISO certification, financial constraints, and firm performance in Latin American and Caribbean countries," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 203-228.
    10. Gupta, Sonam & Innes, Robert, 2014. "Private politics and environmental management," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 319-339.
    11. Anil R. Doshi & Glen W.S. Dowell & Michael W. Toffel, 2011. "How Firms Respond to Mandatory Information Disclosure," Harvard Business School Working Papers 12-001, Harvard Business School, revised Jun 2012.
    12. Goedhuys, Micheline & Sleuwaegen, Leo, 2013. "The Impact of International Standards Certification on the Performance of Firms in Less Developed Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 87-101.
    13. Ueki, Yasushi, 2016. "Customer pressure, customer–manufacturer–supplier relationships, and quality control performance," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 2233-2238.
    14. Marc-Arthur Diaye & Nathalie Greenan & Sanja Pekovic, 2014. "Sharing the " Fame " of Quality Certification: Quality Supply Chain Effects Evidence
      [Partager la « réputation » de la certification qualité : l’identification d’un effet de chaîne d’appr
      ," Post-Print halshs-01362467, HAL.
    15. Sarkis, Joseph & Zhu, Qinghua & Lai, Kee-hung, 2011. "An organizational theoretic review of green supply chain management literature," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(1), pages 1-15, March.
    16. repec:kap:jbuset:v:147:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2952-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Dayna Simpson & Damien Power & Robert Klassen, 2012. "When One Size Does Not Fit All: A Problem of Fit Rather than Failure for Voluntary Management Standards," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 110(1), pages 85-95, September.
    18. repec:kap:jmgtgv:v:21:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10997-016-9352-6 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:18:y:2009:i:1:p:171-201. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.