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Ecological impacts of the ISO14001 certification of small and medium sized enterprises in Europe and the mediating role of networks

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In international scientific literature, it is argued that the adoption of ISO14001 certification is symbolic, aiming to improve the enterprise's public image. Various empirical researches have indeed shown that ISO14001 does not have substantial favorable ecological impacts. This paper contributes to the scientific
literature by arguing that previous research has neglected possible mediators through which ISO14001 may have a positive indirect influence on ecological outcomes. More specifically, we conjecture that ISO14001 certification stimulates participation in external environmental networks, and that such networks generate favorable effects on the ecological performance of their participants. This mediation channel seems particularly relevant for small and medium sized enterprises. They often lack knowledge of how to handle the increasingly complex issue of ecological performance and can receive guidance
about managing these processes from other parties in the network. A second contribution is that the paper uses structural equation modelling to test the indirect effect of ISO14001 certification on ecological outcomes involving a large sample of 3633 small and medium sized enterprises from twelve European
countries. The findings confirm that participation in networksdthrough cooperation in the supply chain, or partnerships with training institutes or local organizationsdmediate the impact of ISO14001 on the ecological outcomes of small and medium sized enterprises. Based on these results, it can be concluded
that promotion of ISO14001 certification among small and medium sized enterprises is particularly useful if is combined with participation in external networks that facilitate its implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-282
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
StatePublished - 10 Feb 2018

    Research areas

  • Ecological performance, ISO 14001 certification, mediation, networks, small and medium sized enterprises
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