ISO 14001 certified plants in Brazil - taxonomy and practices

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Research on taxonomies has helped in shedding light on similarities between firms in a particular group and differences between each group. However, few studies have analyzed how operations managers of manufacturing firms in emerging countries adopt diverse strategies of environmental management, with diverse operational practices and results. This study fills this gap by proposing a taxonomy for ISO 14001-certified plants, describing the differences for each group for a set of key variables related to internal and external perspectives. For this purpose, we conducted a survey of ISO 14001-certified manufacturing plants in Brazil, in a restricted set of industries including chemical, manufactured metal products, and electronics. A sample of 99 plants was analyzed using multivariate data analysis techniques, such as principal component analysis (PCA), cluster analysis, and analysis of variance (ANOVA). We have identified three clusters, according to their motivations to certification: internal focus, external focus, and holistic group. Internal focus companies are characterized by their emphasis on internal operations and resources. External focus companies deal with social pressure and institutions that regulate the environment. Holistic companies place high value on all motivation dimensions regardless if they are internal or external. We present an illustrative example related to the Holistic group. Companies in this group present a more efficient use of raw materials and inputs as well a higher integration with suppliers and external research and development (R&D) centers. This group combines external actions with internal results regarding environmental management. Thus, the results suggest that external integration and the improvement of internal processes efficiency allow a more integrated approach in environmental practices, resulting in better environmental performance. On the other hand, companies with the external focus strategy tend to have lower environmental performance and lower levels of operational practices linked to the environmental management. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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