Raising awareness of the benefits of certification and assurance services


Accredited certification benefits

Assessing the Impact of Environmental Management Systems on Corporate and Environmental Performance

‘Assessing the Impact of Environmental Management Systems on Corporate and Environmental Performance’ (Melnyk, Sroufe, Calantone, 2003) poses the strong question ‘Do efforts aimed at reducing pollution impact operations performance and, if so, then does it matter whether the efforts meet ISO 14001 certification standards?’

To examine this, the research proposes the hypothesis that performance is lowest when EMS (Environmental Management System) is not present; intermediate when EMS is present but not ISO 14001 certified, and highest when EMS is present and ISO 14001 certified. This is tested using a final sample of 1222 American (largely manufacturing sites), 51% of which had no formal EMS, 41% had formal a EMS and 8% were certified.

The results of the survey supported the above hypothesis, signifying improved corporate performance is best achieved by a certified EMS. The report suggests the reasons for this are:

1. The plant-wide certification involves a wide range of people, spreading awareness of environmental management

2. Evaluation (third party verification) motivates real improvements in the site

3. Benefits delivered by the focus on underlying pressures, not just the outputs, a situation forced by ISO 14001 certification.

‘The results of our research show many significant relationships between the presence of a formal EMS or a certified EMS and improved performance such as reduced costs, improved quality, the reduction of waste in the design and equipment selection process, and reduction of lead times’.

‘Basically, a formal EMS does play a role in improving overall performance. Furthermore, certification of these systems does have a significant incremental impact on performance and on the reactive options the plants involved in the study considered. This study demonstrates that certification, as embodied within ISO 14001 environmental standards, brings with it real benefits’.

Paper available to purchase


  • Melnyk, S.A., Sroufe, R.P., Calantone, R., (2003), ‘Assessing the Impact of Environmental Management Systems on Corporate and Environmental Performance’, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 21, Issue 3, 329-351.

The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management, Michigan State University (Melnyk, Calantone); Wallace E Carroll School of Management, Boston College (Sroufe)