Sources of Corporate Environmental Performance

by Neil Gunningham, Dorothy Thornton, Robert Kagan

Fall 2003

Volume 46
Issue 1

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What motivates business firms to significantly improve their environmental performance? Why do some companies achieve better environmental performance than others? Through a study of 14 pulp mills in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, this article shows that more stringent regulatory requirements and increasing political pressure have brought about large improvements and convergence in environmental performance over the last 30 years, with many mills exceeding compliance requirements. In addition, corporate environmental management style and social license pressures from local communities and environmental activists have prodded some facilities further beyond compliance than others, while economic pressures have limited just how far ahead facilities have been willing to move.

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