The Evolution of Environmental Management From Stage Models to Performance Evaluation

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  Business Strategy and the EnvironmentBus. Strat. Env.  11 , 14–31 (2002)DOI: 10.1002/bse.316 THE EVOLUTION OFENVIRONMENTALMANAGEMENT: FROM STAGEMODELS TO PERFORMANCEEVALUATION Ans Kolk* and Anniek MauserUniversity of Amsterdam, The Netherlands In the past two decades, academics andpractitioners have attempted to improveunderstanding of environmentalmanagement by classifying companies’environmental behaviour, and evaluatingtheir performance. Driven by bothresearch and societal interest, this hasresulted in a wave of stage or phasemodels, and a range of typologies. Thisarticle gives an overview of thedevelopment of such environmentalmanagement models, analysing theircharacteristics, strengths and weaknesses.An evolution can be noted in the directionof typologies and non-linear models todeal with organizational and strategiccomplexities. Models are starting to paymore attention to the management side.To overcome problems of operationalization and limited companyand sector specificity, environmentalperformance evaluation systems haveemerged more recently. Although *Correspondence to: Dr. Ans Kolk, University of Amsterdam,Department of Accountancy and Information Management,Faculty of Economics, Roeterstraat 11, 1018 WB Amsterdam,The Netherlands. Copyright  ©  2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment. comprehensive performance assessmentsare still unavailable, the tenets of such asystem can already be delineated. Thepaper presents these components, anddraws conclusions on the contribution of environmental management models andperformance evaluation systems.Copyright  ©  2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltdand ERP Environment. Received 10 April 2001Revised 20 September 2001Accepted 10 October 2001 INTRODUCTION W ith increasing complexity and diver-sity in the practice of environmen-tal management, both academics andpractitionersstartedtocharacterize companies’environmental actions. Since the late 1980s,they have developed classifications to describetrends in environmental management, usinga diversity of labels to designate process andoutcomes, such as strategies, responses or per-formance. This has attracted scientific and soci-etal interest, and resulted in a large number of normative models that outlined future direc-tions to be taken by companies in order arrive  THE EVOLUTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT at a more sustainable future (cf. Dobers  et al .,2000; Kolk, 2000), but merely in the contextof the managerial, reform-oriented paradigm(Egri and Pinfield, 1996; Levy, 1997).Although environmental management mod-elsshowawidevarietyofcharacteristics,manyare stage or phase models that describe adevelopment in time consisting of an increas-ing integration of environmental concerns into business policy and strategy. In the courseof time, typologies that merely characterizecompanies’ position, without assuming sucha growing responsiveness, have also emerged.Regardless of the type of model, however,a wide diversity prevails. This applies to thekinds of business reaction that are described,the terminology used to characterize the differ-ent phases and positions, the number of stagesthat are distinguished and the empirical evi-dence on which models are based. Consideringthis variety, what can be learned from theseenvironmental management models? What aretheir strengths and limitations? This paperaddresses these questions, starting with anoverview of existing models, their peculiaritiesand their contribution to a better understand-ing of the dynamics of environmental manage-ment. Subsequently, it analyses how, relatedto some limitations and an ongoing quest forassessing business behaviour, environmentalperformance evaluation systems emerged. Thefinal section draws conclusions as to wherethe efforts have brought us, and what environ-mental management models and performanceinstruments can contribute. AN OVERVIEWOF ENVIRONMENTALMANAGEMENT MODELS The first author who, to our knowledge, cameup with a classification model to describe theincreasing importance of environmental con-cerns for business policy and strategy, wasPetulla (1987). This model built on a longtradition of classificatory efforts to categorizesocial and organizational phenomena in gen-eral. Although such attempts were criticizedfor a number of reasons, it has also beenargued that typologies and taxonomies areuseful to understand organizational structuresand strategies, provided that they meet certainrequirements (Doty and Glick, 1994; Sanchez,1993; Schwenk, 1985).Since Petulla’s first categorization, manyothers have tried to characterize corporateresponses to environmental management. Aninventory of existing studies resulted in 50models (see Table 1). The overview presentsall articles, books and reports that have beenmost often quoted in the literature. Althoughit might not be exhaustive, covering probablyonly some of the environmental managementtypologies that have been developed, we believe that all the key studies have beenincluded.Slightly more than half of the studies (56%)involved articles, and 30% were included in books.Tenoutofthe28articles werepublishedin ‘business and environment’ journals, with Business Strategy and the Environment  account-ing for six of them. The fact that so many of the models appeared in general managementoutlets (65% of all articles), and in books from‘non-environmental’ publishers (73%), under-lines the existence of a broad interest in thetopic outside the environmental field. More-over, while around 60% of the models havea purely academic background, the remain-der srcinates from consultancy, from authorswho combine the two activities or from the(inter-)governmental side. These two charac-teristics – broad interest from ‘general man-agement’, and involvement from academicsand a diversity of practitioners – also came tothe fore in a study on the research agenda asreflected in the first seven volumes of   Busi-ness Strategy and the Environment  (Dobers  et al .,2000).Table 1 gives a chronological overview of the environmental management models thatwe have found (within the years, ranked inchronological order). It includes their mainpeculiarities – titles, number of and definingcriteria for stages, types of model, degree of  Copyright  ©  2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment  Bus. Strat. Env.  11 , 14–31 (2002) 15   A . K O L  K A N D A . M A U S  E  R Table 1. An overview of environmental management modelsGeneral characteristics ∗ Nature ∗∗ Criteria ∗∗∗ Empirical basisTitle of the model Designation of No. Type Flex. Dev. No. Nature Country, sector, No.,stages/positions methodPetulla (1987) approaches of EMcrisis-oriented;cost-oriented;enlightened EM3 continuum no abs/rel 2 int/ext US, industry-wide,132 firms, surveyenv. managersSteger (1988) env. strategies indifferent; defensive; 4 typology yes rel 2 int/ext Germany,offensive; innovative 2 × 2 industry-wide, 592firms, interviews board membersHofstra  et al . stages of inspection; total 3 continuum no rel 7 (17) int US & NL,(1990) completion of EMcompliance; totalintegrationideal types yes industry-wide, 28(US), 13 NL firms,interviewsHunt & Auster(1990)stages of EM beginner; fire fighter;concerned citizen;pragmatist; proactivist5 continuum no rel 3 (12) int US, industry-wide,No. unclear,generalobservationsGreeno (1991) posture towardsenv. issuesproblem solving;managing forcompliance; managingfor assurance3 continuum no rel 3 int NA; conceptualSimpson (1991) response to env.pressureswhy mess; smart movers;enthusiasts3 continuum no rel – ext NA; conceptualUNEP (1991) (see1995a)quality, maturityof EMprogrammesinnocence; awareness;understanding;competence; excellence5 continuum no rel 8 int/ext NA; conceptualWicke (1991) env. concepts reactive; offensive 2 continuum no rel 6 ext NA; conceptualGEMI (1992) performancelevelcompliance; systemsdevelopment andimplementation;integration into general business functions; totalquality approach4 continuumideal typesyes rel 16 int world-wide,industry-wide, 21firms, casestudies/ownexperience  C o  p  y r  i    g h  t    ©  2  0  0  2  J   o h  n W i   l    e  y & S  o n s  , L  t   d  a n d  E  R  P  E  n v i   r  o n m e n t    B  u s  . S   t    r  a  t    . E  n v .  1  1   , 1  4 – 3  1   (   2  0  0  2   )    1  6    T  H E  E  V O L  U T  I   O N O F  E  N V I   R O N M E  N T  A L  M A N A G E  M E  N T  M¨uller &Koechlin (1992)stages of env.strategyinactive/ignore/‘ostriches’; reactive/respond/‘chickenlickens’; proactive/anticipate/‘greenhornets’; hyperac-tive/provoke/‘RobinHood’4 continuum no rel – int NA; conceptualRoome (1992) strategic optionsto react onenv. pressuresnon-compliance;compliance; complianceplus; commercial andenv. excellence; leadingedge5 continuum no rel 1 (6) int NA; conceptualStikker (1992) env. learningcurveend-of-pipe;environmental caresystems; environmentalauditing;cradle-to-graveapproach; sustainable business5 continuum no rel – int NA; conceptualFischer & Schot(1993)env. strategies resistant adaptation;embracingenvironmental issueswithout innovating2 (6) continuum no abs – int/ext NA; conceptualMeffert & env. basis opposition; passivity; 5 continuum no rel 5 int/ext NA; conceptualKirchgeorg(1993)strategies retreat; adaptation;innovationideal types yesNewman &Breeden (1993)env. strategies reactive; proactive;innovative3 continuum no rel – int NA; conceptualUNCTAD (1993) managementapproachescompliance oriented(reactive); preventive(lean andprecautionary); strategic(opportunity seeking);sustainabledevelopment(responsive)4 continuum no rel 7 int/ext worldwide,industrywide, 210multinationals,survey( continued overleaf  )  C o  p  y r  i    g h  t    ©  2  0  0  2  J   o h  n W i   l    e  y & S  o n s  , L  t   d  a n d  E  R  P  E  n v i   r  o n m e n t    B  u s  . S   t    r  a  t    . E  n v .  1  1   , 1  4 – 3  1   (   2  0  0  2   )    1  7 
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