Decision traps in ISO 14001 implementation process: Case study results from Illinois certified companies

Alessia Ghisellini, Deborah L. Thurston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper describes cognitive decision traps into which companies may fall prey during implementation of the ISO 14001 Standard, and their effect on the environmental performance of certified companies. The environmental performance of several Illinois ISO certified companies over time has been investigated. Furthermore, three manufacturing plants have been analyzed, in depth, in order to determine the possible correlation between their Environmental Management Systems and the environmental decision biases. The outcomes of this survey show that even companies seriously committed to the fulfillment of the Standard, can still accidentally fall prey to cognitive decision traps, and that the myths regarding the effectiveness of the ISO 14001 Standard are often far from reality. A set of guidelines that companies should follow in order to avoid the most serious decision traps is provided, as well as recommendations for the next ISO 14001 review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-777
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Environmental decision traps
  • Environmental management system
  • Environmental performance
  • ISO 14000 and 14001
  • Pollution prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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