• environmental;
  • companies;
  • pollution;
  • operations


In contrast to most environmental engineering processes, the effectiveness of employee involvement in pollution reduction seems uncertain, ambiguous and far from being clearly established. For companies whose environmental policies have long rested on technical investments, this uncertainty raises several essential questions, namely ‘what is the true effectiveness of this approach?’, ‘to what degree does employee involvement, most specifically operator involvement, make it possible to significantly and measurably reduce environmental impacts?’ and ‘what type of change could this induce in company operations?’. This article proposes answers to these questions based on an empirical study of the preventive and behavioural aspects of environmental management in the Canadian chemical industry. Conducted in three chemical factories from the Montreal region, the case studies show that significant results, often exceeding managers' expectations, could be obtained through the operators' involvement. However, these results and the precise organizational changes that caused them were difficult to identify, measure and foresee. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.