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Type: Journal article
Title: To the letter vs the spirit: A case analysis of contrasting environmental management responses
Author: Heggen, C.
Sridharan, V.
Subramaniam, N.
Citation: Accounting Auditing and Accountability Journal, 2018; 31(2):478-502
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Issue Date: 2018
ISSN: 0951-3574
Editor: Parker, L.
Statement of
Campbell Heggen, VG Sridharan and Nava Subramaniam
Abstract: Purpose: This paper examines why firms governed by the same environmental management standards within an industry exhibit contrasting responses, with some adhering to the letter and others achieving the spirit behind the standards. Design: Using Arena et al. (2010) as an analytical schema to examine the institutional dynamics behind such contrasting responses, the paper analyses archival and interview data relating to firm strategy, control technology and human expertise in two contrasting Australian forestry firms. Findings: The embedding and decoupling of environmental standards with a firm’s environmental management practices is influenced, first, by the extent to which founder directors and senior management integrate environmental responsibility with the underlying business motives and, second, by the use of organisational beliefs and values systems to institutionalise the integrated strategic rationality throughout the firm. Finally, informed by the institutionalised strategic rationality, the participation and expertise of actors across the organisational hierarchy determines the level to which the design and execution of the eco-control technologies move beyond merely monitoring compliance, and act to facilitate continuous improvement, knowledge integration and organisational learning at the operational level. Originality: This paper responds to institutional theorists’ call for a holistic explanation that considers the interactions among several intra-organisational factors to explain the dynamics behind why some firms decouple while others do not, even though the firms exist in the same social and regulatory context.
Keywords: Environmental accounting; environmental management systems; eco-controls; environmental certification standards; environmental responsibility; environmental strategy
Rights: © Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI: 10.1108/AAAJ-02-2016-2418
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