Environmental Management in Operations: The Selection of Environmental Technologies*

Authors


  • *

    The authors would like to thank the associate editor, two anonymous reviewers, and Morgan Swink for their insightful criticisms and thoughtful suggestions that have greatly improved this paper. The first author would also like to thank the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada for financial support of this research.

Abstract

Manufacturing firms have given management of the natural environment higher priority as public awareness and scrutiny has increased. To help understand management's role in this process, a basic conceptual model of environmental management within operations is developed. The model proposes that the general orientation of operations managers on environmental issues ranges from proactive to reactive, and this is intrinsically related to the investment pattern in environmental technologies. Results from an empirical validation of this model are presented for a sample of plants from the furniture industry. Three distinct groups were identified based on the linkage between environmental management orientation and investment in environmental technologies. Counter to the prescriptive environmental literature, which recommends that proactive orientation should emphasize pollution prevention (i.e., fundamental product and process changes), proactive managers implemented a balanced portfolio that also included a sizable proportion of pollution control technologies (i.e., traditional end-of-pipe controls and remediation). Contextual factors also differentiate among these three groups, thus suggesting options for senior management to assist plant managers to become more proactive and to improve environmental performance.

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