Impact of manager characteristics on corporate environmental behavior at heavy-polluting firms in Shaanxi, China

Feng Wang, Zhihua Cheng, Christine Keung, Ann Reisner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Air pollution is a major health hazard in China and a serious focus of governmental concern. To reduce the levels of air pollution will take a strategic realignment of priorities for all of the major players responsible for monitoring and implementing environmental controls to air emissions. Gaining and maintaining compliance of on-the-ground company directors and managers is essential to adequate pollution control, but to date little is known about how managers of heavily polluting companies view pro-environmental measures in their company operation. This paper identifies common characteristics of managers in heavy polluting industries, and measures the impact these characteristics have on corporate environmental behavior based on the survey data that was collected in 2013 from sixty energy companies in China's Shaanxi Province. Personal characteristics of these managers include age, gender, place of birth, level of education, average monthly household income, department, position, environmental awareness, and environmental behavior. Empirical results show that 33.5% of managers that belong to companies with high corporate environmental behavior scores also have the highest level of environmental awareness and environmental behavior. Managers' environmental behavior, awareness and education are significantly positively correlated to corporate environmental behavior. The research also discovered that managers' seniority is positively correlated with corporate environmental behavior, which indicates that senior managers have higher environmental awareness and knowledge. The paper concluded that distinct differences between senior management types related to their core underlying values and these differences matter both for environmental protection and training. Understanding how company directors and managers view their roles in relationship to company environmental protection will require a nuanced approach that rejects a simple uni-dimensional conceptualization of company managers' relationship to environmental implementation. By extension, a "single-service" educational approach will also need to be rejected since one message aimed at one set of values will not tap into the range of environmental motivations and values currently held by those in management positions and therefore will be less effective than training approaches that are targeted at specific types of managers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-715
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Corporate environmental behavior
  • Environmental awareness
  • Heavy-polluting firms
  • Managers characteristics
  • Senior managers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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