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The impact of voluntary adoption of ISO 14001 among firms in Asia

By Ailu Hiew


Since the late 1990s there has been an increasing awareness of the importance of understanding environmental management systems (EMS) and their relationships with sustainability, competitiveness and business practice in the West. Since its introduction in 1996 and revision in 2004, an EMS based on the ISO 14001 voluntary standard has remained the most widely implemented environmental standard implemented by the business community in Asia to pursue environmental sustainability. Multinational corporations (MNCs) have played a pivotal role in the greening of the supply chain within the region in pushing firms to conduct business in line with international standards. Widely recognised as a dependable international eco-label, firms who are certified to ISO 14001 are able to sustain their businesses within the global market by conforming to international standards as well as meeting customers’ demands. This thesis aimed to fill a gap in our knowledge of how businesses across Asia tackled environmental issues and the depth of their understanding in issues relating to business and sustainability. In doing so, this thesis examined the impact of the implementation of ISO 14001 EMS among MNCs and large firms in Asia. This research aimed to determine if the implementation of ISO 14001 EMS over a period of time had brought wider benefits to firms. The methodology applied in this study was based on multiple case studies evidence on six Asian firms in different industry sectors. Evidence from the case studies had identified various internal and external benefits experienced by firms who had implemented ISO 14001 EMS for a number of years. Findings based on the case studies also demonstrated that firms who had implemented ISO 14001 EMS over a period of time were more likely to expand their environmental measures practices by adopting other voluntary initiatives

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