IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

A learning and knowledge approach to sustainable operations

Listed author(s):
  • Gavronski, Iuri
  • Klassen, Robert D.
  • Vachon, Stephan
  • Nascimento, Luis Felipe Machado do
Registered author(s):

    Manufacturing's choice of environmental technologies is expected to be partly driven by the organizational context and receptivity to new ideas and innovation. More specifically, we hypothesize that the organizational learning and knowledge system of a manufacturing plant tends to favor the adoption of pollution prevention technologies and environmental management systems over pollution control technologies of that plant. The organizational learning and knowledge system is hypothesized to be split in two different stages, organizational learning antecedents and organizational learning processes. The choice of environmental technologies is hypothesized to be partially related to the organizational learning antecedents, and mediated by the organizational learning processes. Survey data exploring these relationships are presented from a sample of manufacturing plants in Canada. We found that the actual trade-off is not only between pollution prevention and pollution control, but also between pollution prevention and environmental management systems. The plant's social climate and external knowledge exchange are positively related to pollution control, while the stock of knowledge of managers, stock of knowledge of workers, and internal knowledge exchange are negatively related to pollution control. Environmental management systems had the opposite results. These results are counterintuitive, since we expected that all constructs from organizational learning culture would contribute to the choice of pollution prevention and environmental management systems. We found, however, no empirical support for the mediated model, and the organizational learning and knowledge system explained very little variance in the choice for pollution control. Our study makes three significant contributions. First, it explains, at least in part, the linkages between the stock of employee knowledge, knowledge exchange and managerial choices of environmental technologies in manufacturing. Second, it refined and validated scales that capture organizational knowledge within operations. Finally, this research highlighted the important role that plant-level social climate has on fostering a greater emphasis on pollution prevention. The managerial implications of this research are twofold. Managers, in order to promote pollution prevention and creating long term value with this kind of technology, should promote both the social climate and the external knowledge exchange in the plant. Managers also should craft their environmental management systems not as a bureaucratic process of documentation and regulatory compliance, or just to fulfill clients’ or parent company requirements, but as a source of process improvement and innovation.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Journal of Production Economics.

    Volume (Year): 140 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 183-192

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:140:y:2012:i:1:p:183-192
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpe.2012.01.037
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Adamides, Emmanuel D. & Pomonis, Nikolaos, 2009. "The co-evolution of product, production and supply chain decisions, and the emergence of manufacturing strategy," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 301-312, October.
    2. Lee Cronbach, 1951. "Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests," Psychometrika, Springer;The Psychometric Society, vol. 16(3), pages 297-334, September.
    3. Barla, Philippe, 2007. "ISO 14001 certification and environmental performance in Quebec's pulp and paper industry," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 291-306, May.
    4. Choi, Tsan-Ming & Chiu, Chun-Hung, 2012. "Mean-downside-risk and mean-variance newsvendor models: Implications for sustainable fashion retailing," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(2), pages 552-560.
    5. Thomas P. Lyon & John W. Maxwell, 2011. "Greenwash: Corporate Environmental Disclosure under Threat of Audit," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 3-41, March.
    6. Ingemar Dierickx & Karel Cool, 1989. "Asset Stock Accumulation and Sustainability of Competitive Advantage," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(12), pages 1504-1511, December.
    7. Fosfuri, Andrea & Tribø, Josep A., 2008. "Exploring the antecedents of potential absorptive capacity and its impact on innovation performance," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 173-187, April.
    8. Wu, Lei-Yu, 2010. "Applicability of the resource-based and dynamic-capability views under environmental volatility," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 27-31, January.
    9. Andrew King & Michael Lenox, 2002. "Exploring the Locus of Profitable Pollution Reduction," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(2), pages 289-299, February.
    10. Ingemar Dierickx & Karel Cool, 1989. "Asset Stock Accumulation and the Sustainability of Competitive Advantage: Reply," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(12), pages 1514-1514, December.
    11. Charles J. Corbett & Robert D. Klassen, 2006. "Extending the Horizons: Environmental Excellence as Key to Improving Operations," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 8(1), pages 5-22, March.
    12. Chaabane, A. & Ramudhin, A. & Paquet, M., 2012. "Design of sustainable supply chains under the emission trading scheme," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 37-49.
    13. Armstrong, J. Scott & Overton, Terry S., 1977. "Estimating Nonresponse Bias in Mail Surveys," MPRA Paper 81694, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:proeco:v:140:y:2012:i:1:p:183-192. 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: (Dana Niculescu)

    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.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with 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 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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.