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Are 'soft' policy instruments effective? The link between environmental management systems and the environmental performance of companies

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Abstract

Based on the analysis of a large dataset on the environmental performance of European companies in selected industrial sectors, the paper examines the question of whether the presence of an environmental management system (EMS) has a positive impact on the ecoefficiency of companies. It begins with a review of current evidence about the link between EMS and environmental performance, finding that despite much research into EMS there is still very little quantitative research on their actual environmental outcome. The second part of the paper uses three different statistical methods to assess whether companies and production sites with EMS perform better than those without and whether performance improves after an EMS has been introduced. Identifying only a weak link between EMS and eco-efficiency, the authors propose a number of possible explanations and warn against an overly-positive view of EMS as an autonomous driver of environmental performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Julia Hertin & Frans Berkhout & Marcus Wagner & Daniel Tyteca, 2004. "Are 'soft' policy instruments effective? The link between environmental management systems and the environmental performance of companies," SPRU Working Paper Series 124, SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:124
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    File URL: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/documents/sewp124.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Schleich, Joachim, 2007. "The economics of energy efficiency: barriers to profitable investments," EIB Papers 10/2007, European Investment Bank, Economics Department.
    2. Richard G. Newell & Adam B. Jaffe & Robert N. Stavins, 1999. "The Induced Innovation Hypothesis and Energy-Saving Technological Change," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 941-975.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anja Schaefer, 2007. "Contrasting Institutional and Performance Accounts of Environmental Management Systems: Three Case Studies in the UK Water & Sewerage Industry," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(4), pages 506-535, June.
    2. Dietrich Earnhart, 2013. "Effect of Systems to Manage Environmental Aspects on Environmental Performance," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(6), pages 1-32, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    environmental management systems; environmental performance; eco-efficiency;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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