Motivations and barriers to corporate environmental management

David Ervin, Junjie Wu, Madhu Khanna, Cody Jones, Teresa Wirkkala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper integrates two conceptual frameworks, utility maximization and institutional theory, to analyze voluntary corporate environmental management. The utility maximization or economic approach centers on motivations to decrease cost, increase revenue and improve manager utility. Institutional theory emphasizes how external pressures from market and non-market constituents shape the firm's environmental efforts. We view the two frameworks as complementary and postulate a model that includes both types of influences. Survey data from six major industries consisting of a diverse set of facilities are used to estimate the effects of economic and institutional factors on a facility's use of environmental practices and pollution-prevention activities. Our results support the hypothesized model, and show that cost barriers, management attitudes toward environmental stewardship, company ownership and external institutional forces, including competitiveness, investor and regulatory pressures, all affect a facility's environmental practices and pollution prevention activities. Findings suggest that a multifaceted policy strategy is needed to advance corporate environmental management across diverse firms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-409
Number of pages20
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013


  • Economic factors
  • Environmental policy
  • Environmental practices
  • Institutional forces
  • Management attitudes
  • Pollution prevention
  • Stakeholder pressures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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