Consumption, innovation and the environment

Environmental Policy and Firm-Level Management


During the last few years OECD countries have witnessed an increased awareness on the part of firms of the potential to realise certain commercial objectives through improved environmental performance, and an increased awareness on the part of public policy-makers of the need to understand how firms actually operate when designing and implementing environmental policy.

In order to explore these issues a multi-country industrial survey has been undertaken, analysing the relationship between environmental policy design and firm-level management. This involves the collection of data from over 4,000 firms and facilities in seven OECD countries. Initial outputs including descriptive overviews of the data for Japan, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary, Canada and the United States are available. Recent presentations using the data on policy mixes and policy enforcement and small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as an overview presentation of the project.


On-going work includes empirical analysis of the following issues:

- The factors behind a facility’s choice to introduce an EMS and other environmental management tools;
- The determinants of a facility’s likelihood of having undertaken specific types of environmental investments;
- The determinants of the degree of environmental innovation and integration exhibited by the facility; and,
- The links between the aforementioned factors and the facility’s commercial performance (profitability and sales) and strategies.


Reports based on this work were presented at a conference co-hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada in Washington D.C. (14-15 June 2005). This involved academics and representatives from business, government, and non-governmental-organisations. The agenda (with presentations) arising out of the meeting are available, as well as a summary of the discussions.


The questionnaire, a glossary of variables used in the analyses, and a comparison of the sample with the population of facilities by size and sector are available. In addition, data for Canada has been corroborated independently using data collected by Statistics Canada. A publication "Environmental Policy and Corporate Behaviour" summarising the main empirical results is available. 


“In conclusion, this volume should be in the libraries of those who have the duty of drafting the policies required to meet the world's current environmental challenges, as well as academics who are interested in being at the frontier of empirical work on corporate environmental behavior. […] This book highlights why corporate structure and the decision-making processes of businesses should not be ignored in the effort to achieve a globally sustainable economy.”  

Stephen J. DeCanio (Ecological Economics 2008, p.343)


In addition, a policy summary of the project has been prepared. A large number of articles in top academic journals in the field (Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Comparative Economic Studies, Business Strategy and the Environment, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management) have arisen out of the project.