Extending environmental management beyond the firm boundaries: An empirical study of Dutch food and beverage firms
Consumer demand for environmental sustainability and for affordable prices calls for cooperation and information exchange in food chains to reduce joint environmental impact, known as externally-oriented environmental management (E-EM). E-EM is increasingly regarded as a management tool to simultaneously improve environmental, operational, and business performance. Understanding the factors that influence managers to develop E-EM helps to design environmentally and economically sustainable food chains. The prior research regarding these factors is not exhaustive and demanded a multi-period approach. This study expands the understanding of the factors that influence managers to develop E-EM with a multi-period empirical research. We address the effects of external institutional pressures (regulative, normative, and culturally-cognitive) and the level of in-company environmental management (I-EM) on E-EM, which involves information exchange in the chain, cooperation with suppliers and customers. The analysis relies on survey data of 255 and 96 Dutch food and beverage (F&B) processors from 2002 and 2010 respectively. The findings indicate that respondents have considerably improved I-EM over time. I-EM requires in-company pzrocedures ranging from environmental strategy formulation to the managerial review of achieved results to assure continuous improvement of environmental performance. F&B processors that had already achieved a high level of I-EM are more likely to develop E-EM. Also growing normative and culturally-cognitive pressures from supply chain partners and increasingly from long-term public–private environmental covenants significantly influenced E-EM implementation. However, regulative pressure from public authorities had no impact. It appeared that E-EM is influenced mostly by institutional pressures when the firms are less experienced with I-EM.
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