Environmental Management Practices in the Manufacturing Sector - Hungarian Features in International Comparison*

Article excerpt

The paper provides an overview of the state of corporate environmental management in Hungary compared to older EU and OECD states. It also explores the complex relationship between the implementation of environmental management practices and corporate environmental and business performance. Empirical evidence is taken from a comprehensive piece of research, carried out in OECD member countries, which explored motivation, decision-making procedures, and organisational structure of companies in relation to the design and implementation of environmental management tools and systems.

Der Artikel bietet einen Überblick über die Situation des betrieblichen Umweltmanagements in Ungarn im Vergleich zu den älteren EU- und OECDLändern, Weiterhin werden die komplexen Beziehungen zwischen der Implementierung von Umweltmanagement-Praktiken und der betrieblichen Umwelt- und Geschäftsperformanz analysiert. Die empirische Evidenz basiert auf umfangreichen Forschungen in OECD-Mitgliedsländern, wobei insbesondere Motivation, EntScheidungsprozesse und Organisationsstruktur von Unternehmen im Zusammenhang mit Design und Implementation von Umweltmanagement-Instrumenten und -Systemen erforscht wurde.

Key words: environmental management, corporate environmental performance, EMS, stakeholder orientation, environmental function, environmental impact, environmental measures

1. Introduction

Corporate environmental management is the practice of utilising a broad voluntary toolset to improve the environmental performance of companies, help them achieve regulatory compliance and increase competitiveness. Hence, the paper focuses on corporate environmental management (EM) practices in attempting to identify the main drivers behind implementation, analyse the tools applied and evaluate the effectiveness of corporate environmental activity.

For the empirical background of the article, a database from a large OECD survey has been used. This research was carried out in 2003 with the participation of Germany, France, Norway and Hungary from Europe as well as the United States, Canada and Japan. The total international database was made available for deeper analysis in 2008. The aim of this paper is to provide an international overview of environmental management in reality, and a comparison between Hungary and the other surveyed OECD countries. Further qualitative interviews among corporate professional have been carried out in 2007 in order to provide a more complex interpretation of Hungarian features.

The most important fields of analysis are as follows:

1. Application of different environmental management practices. An exploration of how key (and more rarely-used) tools and environmental management systems are disseminated among Hungarian and other OECD firms is included, along with analysis of which factors influence the quality and effectiveness of corporate environmental management in general.

2. Role of stakeholders in corporate environmental activity. The main question is whether the rising importance of market players and intra-organisational stakeholders is supplanting the role of authority pressure regarding companies' environmental measures.

3. Effectiveness of EM practices regarding corporate environmental and business performance. EM practices can be useful marketing tools, but their impact on environmental load and the concrete corporate actions is in many cases controversial, reflecting in the results.

2. Conceptual framework

In order to explore the complex relationship between implementation of environmental management practices and corporate environmental and business performance, the paper starts with a literature review, focusing first on the effectiveness of environmental management systems, followed by the relationship and integration of barriers, drivers and organisation activities.

In their regression model, Feldman et al. (1997) explored a positive correlation between the level of environmental management and decreases in environmental emissions. …