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ABSTRACT  Many firms worldwide have adopted environmental management systems, and some have taken the extra step and had their systems certified for the international standard ISO 14001. While institutional pressures and market demand often motivate firms to adopt an EMS, the reasons why they certify for ISO 14001 are less clear. In this study, we interviewed members of the Canadian pulp and paper industry who had either an EMS or ISO 14001 certification to understand why they may have become ISO 14001 certified. We found that task visibility and environmental impact opacity lead to differences in a firm's approach to ISO 14001 certification in the absence of coercive pressures.