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    'Green' Human Resource Benefits: Do they Matter as Determinants of EnvironmentalManagement System Implementation?Author(s): Marcus WagnerSource: Journal of Business Ethics,  Vol. 114, No. 3 (May 2013), pp. 443-456Published by: SpringerStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23433791Accessed: 08-03-2017 10:17 UTC   JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusteddigital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information aboutJSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available athttp://about.jstor.org/terms Springer   is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of BusinessEthics This content downloaded from on Wed, 08 Mar 2017 10:17:46 UTCAll use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms   J Bus Ethics 2013) 114:443-456  DOI 10.1007/s 10551-012-1356-9  'Green' Human Resource Benefits: Do they Matter  as Determinants of Environmental Management System Implementation?  Marcus Wagner  Received: 29 July 2011/Accepted: 9 May 2012/Published online: 6 June 2012  Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012  Abstract This article analyses whether benefits arising for human resource management from environmental  management activities drive environmental management  system implementation. Focusing on employee satisfaction and recruitment/retention, it tests this for German manu  facturing firms in 2001 and 2006 and incorporates a rare  longitudinal element into the analysis. It confirms positive  associations of the benefit levels for both variables with  environmental management system implementation on a large scale. Also it provides evidence that increasing levels  of environmental management system implementation  result from higher economic benefits in the human resource  domain. In doing so the article supplies needed quantitative evidence on important aspects of how sustainability relates to human resource management.  Keywords Environmental management system ■ Human  resource management ã Benefits ã Determinants  Introduction  The World Commission on Environment and Development  (World Commission on Environment and Development  1987, p. 54) defines sustainable development as  development that meets the need for the present without  M. Wagner (0)  Department of Economics and Business Administration,  Julius Maximilians University, Stephanstr. 1,  97070 Wuerzburg, Germany  e-mail: marcus.wagner@ uni-wuerzburg.de  M. Wagner Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, Université de  Strasbourg, 61 av. de la Föret Noire, 68000 Strasbourg, France  compromising the ability of future generations to meet  their own needs.' Based on this definition and Mariap panadar (2003) I define sustainability-oriented (short:  sustainable) human resource (HR) management as a man  agement of human resources (HRs) that meets the current  needs of a firm and society at large without compromising  their ability to meet any future needs. For the sustainability  of firms this implies a requirement to perform financially  (as traditionally expected from firms) as well as socially  and environmentally and hence environmental manage  ment system (EMS) implementation is potentially an  important means to achieve such 'corporate' sustainability (Schaltegger and Burritt 2005). Yet, ever since their con ception, the argument of the uncertain benefits of EMS  (defined for the purpose of this article as a set of common  'Green' practices aimed at improving environmental per  formance) has also been made and in this respect, the  mounting evidence of their limited ecological effectiveness  increasingly suggests, that if benefits of EMS implemen  tation exist, then these are probably mainly of (more or less  tangible) economic nature (Hertin et al. 2008). Indeed, cost  savings, differentiation potential and intangible ('soft')  benefits have been frequently suggested in the literature  based on circumstantial and case evidence (Hamschmidt and  Dyllick 2001). However, it has rarely been confirmed  empirically on a larger scale if such economic benefits are  systematic, especially in relation to 'hard' structural factors such as past profitability and firm size (Darnall 2003; Bowen  2002), which constitutes a significant gap in the literature  that this article contributes to fill. More specifically, benefits  related to HRs have been suggested as a particularly  important category of 'softer' benefits resulting from and therefore (as will be detailed below) ultimately driving EMS  implementation (Wehrmeyer and Parker 1995; Boudreau and Ramstad 2005). Such benefits constitute an important  <£) Springer This content downloaded from on Wed, 08 Mar 2017 10:17:46 UTCAll use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms   444M Wgnr  eemnofG  abovdfnto HRmngmn  mna sutan  subetofsuta  comrses cor  Gvnths nt  ofexaniter  bnfts onEM  scaes estabi  ratedbnfts dvopd Th  bsedontwa  mkngueo  Lundy mng  Review of the Literature porated considerations of competitive advantage, espe cially in relation to the resource-based view a The Development of HR Concepts and Implications response to trends of internationali  for Their Link to Sustainability (Taylor et al. 1996).  As concerns the former perspective, Schüler a  The consequences of global and environmental trends for son (2005) point out issues su  HR management -defined for the purposes of this article HR management (especiall  following Storey (1995, p. 5) as '... a distinctive approach to stakeholders) and identify a nec  employment management which seeks to achieve compet- of stakeholders (shareholder  itive advantage through the strategic deployment of a highly cians, socially concerned indi committed and capable workforce, using an integrated array cerns that bear more or less d  of cultural, structural and personnel techniques'—can only sustainability (and as part o be understood against the background of how these two ment) and HR. As a result, an elements evolved. Global trends are for example increasing notions of sustainability in the consumer individualism, demographic ageing, higher in both, instrumental and non quality and service demands, growing global competition, can be observed (Mariappa  shorter product life cycles and public awareness of social Ramstad 2005; Renwick et a and environmental responsibility (Emerson 1996). As these From this engagement, a categories are often interlinked and virtually permanently ability and HR follows. Firstly, changing, separate trends are difficult to identify, for HR function benefits from an example with regard to gender aspects and environmental sustainability in that such engag management (Mawle 1996). This makes it very difficult for short-termism and assists rene  a company as a whole as well as for the different business resource base as well as '  functions to develop a strategic response to them from a Ramstad 2005). Secondly, th  sustainability perspective. involving more strongly elements of HR management in  Whilst especially the HR function is instrumental in implementing corporate sustainability leads t  implementing organisational change aimed at adapting to formance and more success with regard new requirements for firms and therefore also a potentially (Renwick et al. 2008). The process-oriente  important contributor to such a strategic response, it needs resounds well with this duality and the notion to be acknowledged that the intersection of sustainability, means to assist addressing a wider stakeho  the natural environment and HR management is new area holds particular relevance for environmental ma  in fast development and therefore not characterized by a which has been shown to matter more fo  fully developed body of writings (Jackson et al. 2011). aspects such as employee recruitment than ot  Given this and the complex and evolving macro-trends of corporate social performance (Backhaus outlined above, reviewing the literature to define a state of Given this, the remainder of the article focuse  the art in this area can only be approximate and of limited aspect with a concise review of 'Green' HR temporal validity. literature as the starting point.  <£) Springer This content downloaded from on Wed, 08 Mar 2017 10:17:46 UTCAll use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms   Green HRBenefits and EMS Impemntation 445  The Link of HRand Envronmntal Mnagemnt  The link of HRand environmntal mnagemnt i  corporate context strongy relates to the mre enco  ing relationshp between environmntal and econ  performnce of firm where the argumnt is oftentim  better envronmntal performnce leads to better econ  performnce (Orlitzky 2008. Fromths it is derived implemntation of EMSs (Jacobs et al. 2010 lead  economc benefits, specifically of the softer, intang type introduced earlier, and here specifically HR-rel  benefits.1  With regard to such benefits, the link between envi ronmental management and HR can be addressed at the  strategic as well as at the operational level. At the strategic  level, a good corporate image has been suggested to help attract staff with above-average qualifications and moti  vations (Greening and Turban 2000), making corporate  environmental policy crucial for a firm's goal to achieve a  status of preferred employer (Ramus and Steger 2000) and  it has been argued that this can be achieved by means of  appropriate signalling because firm characteristics have  been shown to associate with HRM practices (Lin  nenluecke and Griffiths 2010).  For example, Egri and Hornal (2002) find that integration  of environmental aspects into HR management and leader  ship styles and values of managers that relate strongly to the  natural environment and corporate responsibility (so called  eco-centric styles/values) widen perceptions of organisa  tional performance and create opportunities for integrating  sustainability more fundamentally in the operations of a firm. Also, attitude changes from one generation of man  agers to the next have been observed which potentially limits the role of eco-centric styles or values and make  appropriate signalling of the firm as a whole an important  task (Ralston et al. 1999).  Beyond the need for corporate signalling in general, the heightened diversity in employee needs and expectations is an increasing challenge for HR managers to gain employee  commitment. In the context of the resource-based view, employees are not solely a factor of production and cor  porate values must be translated into action in order to  make a contribution to short- as well as long-term profits  (Huslid 1995). This requires a matching between employer  and employee values in the recruitment process and sus  tainability seems to be a particularly appropriate means to  address these challenges under the circumstances descri  bed. Ehnert (2009) provides empirical evidence of this  from an exploratory analysis of the websites of 50 large  European firms in service and manufacturing industries by  showing that sustainability, EMS and CSR strengths are  used to support the recruitment of new staff and to retain  and motivate existing employees. Branco and Rodrigues  (2009) confirm this for smaller and medium-sized firms in  Portugal.  In summary, the literature suggests that when firms  invest in CSR strengths beyond the minimum level legally  required, improving the corporate image, employee satis  faction or the ability to recruit excellent staff are oftentimes  important motivations, even though ultimately the hope is  that this would also translate into more tangible benefits such as increased innovativeness of firms and corporate entrepreneurship (Ramus and Steger 2000). Whilst there has been research illuminating the relationship between  individuals' perception of benefits and EMS implementa  tion (Cordano et al. 2004; Cordano and Frieze 2000), firm  level analyses are comparatively scarcer and this article  contributes to fill this gap.  Hypothesis Development  Given that HR benefits have been suggested as a relevant and perhaps the most important category of 'softer' bene  fits resulting from EMS implementation (Shrivastava 1995;  Ramus and Steger 2000), the question arises if such ben  efits are an important factor for the level EMS implemen  tation (measured here as the number of environmental  management activities, rather than a binary variable based  on standard adoption)? To answer this question the  assumption is made that actual and expected HR benefits  for the firm as a whole correspond and that hence the acknowledgement of firm-level HR benefits from envi  ronmental management is not just socially desirable  response behaviour. Furthermore, firms' decisions about  investment and resource allocation that form the basis for  implementing EMSs precede the realization of economic  benefits, and therefore it is also expectations about the level  of HR-related benefits such as increased job satisfaction,  better employee retention and recruitment of more talented  new staff that lead to EMS implementation (Feldman et al.  1997; Jabbour et al. 2008). Assuming firm-level expecta  tions or perceptions are rational, they should correspond to  the level of the benefits realized. Figure 1 summarises  these considerations and visualises the theoretical research  model resulting.  1 Whilst analysing the relationship of social performance (i.e. social  sustainability) with economic performance has generally preceded the  analysis of the link between environmental and economic perfor  mance, with the first studies being carried out as early as in the early  1970s (Pava and Krausz 1996), the late consideration of social  sustainability in the context of the HR function is likely due to the late  consolidation of the latter in the corporate context. Several studies  have indicated that the causality could also run from economic to  environmental performance (Orlitzky 2008) and this is accounted for  when developing hypotheses in that they built on an integrated  perspective with reciprocal causality as the underlying notion  Springe This content downloaded from on Wed, 08 Mar 2017 10:17:46 UTCAll use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms
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