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Environmental certification - why do companies seek it?: A comparative case study of ISO 14001 certified companies in Umeå
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In modern times environmental matters have increased in importance and are being discussed more frequently, and especially in relation with company activity. One way of complying with modern standards for companies is to work with environmental management systems, and it has become quite normal for companies to certify their environmental management systems to a recognized environmental certification. Continuing on this, the purpose of our thesis is to gain a deeper understanding regarding and ultimately assess why it is that companies seek environmental certification. Additionally, we have developed a sub-purpose which is designed to help us gain a deeper understanding regarding the main purpose in a practical context. We will look at 5 production companies in Umeå that have implemented an environmental certification, specifically ISO 14001, and try to understand the reasoning behind choosing to become certified. We will also examine the environmental effectiveness of an ISO 14001 certified environmental management system.

We have conducted a comparative case study with these 5 companies in Umeå. Our method of collecting primary data was to interview the companies with a qualitative semi-structured interviewing technique. In the empirical part of the thesis we focused on practically testing the theoretical material. Furthermore, we also analyzed secondary data received from the companies' websites and directly from the interviewees in order to assess the effectiveness of an ISO 14001 certified environmental management system in financial and environmental terms.

Regarding the theoretical framework, we focus on two theories referred to as the legitimacy theory and the stakeholder theory, and these theories are used to explain organizational behavior. We also have theoretical material explaining the positives and negatives of environmental management systems, and also ISO 14001 certification and the reasons why companies can benefit from such certification.

Our findings suggest that the matter of legitimacy, in combination with the stakeholder theory, affected all of the companies in one way or another when choosing to seek environmental certification. In what ways the companies were affected differed even though there were many similarities across the companies regarding their reasoning to become ISO 14001 certified. We also found that, despite collecting a lot of hard data illustrating the companies' environmental performance over recent years, it was difficult to directly link any improvements to ISO 14001. It was, however, stated that ISO 14001 certification for the environmental management systems did improve the overall quality and environmental focus and performance, but it is still difficult to assess this with much accuracy and certainty due to many contributing factors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 101 p.
Keyword [en]
Environmental certification, ISO 14001, CSR, corporate social responsibility, legitimacy, legitimacy theory, stakeholders, stakeholder theory
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-76443OAI: diva2:636143
Educational program
International Business Program
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2013-07-09 Created: 2013-07-09 Last updated: 2013-07-09Bibliographically approved

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