Environmental management: An industry classification

I. Andersen, D. Bams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this paper, we seek to inform managers, regulators, and investors of the setting in which a firm's environmental management activity is costly and when it is profitable. To identify this setting, we classify firms according to their environmental management activities and the subsequent impact on firm operating performance. This classification has allowed us to explore four potential economic drivers of environmental management, namely competitive positioning, risk management, compliance, and pressure to overinvest. Our results show that consumer-oriented firms that are visible to the public observe a positive relation between environmental commitment and operating performance. They use environmental management as a strategy to appeal to consumers, but also feel the pressure to overinvest. Firms that are in heavily polluting, capital intensive, less visible industries, observe a negative relation between environmental impact management and operating performance. Their environmental management follows primarily from risk management and compliance motivations. When the cost of an environmental activity is high, firms are less likely to self-engage and so regulatory intervention is more likely to be warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number130853
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2022

JEL classifications

  • a13 - Relation of Economics to Social Values
  • c12 - Hypothesis Testing: General
  • m48 - Accounting and Auditing: Government Policy and Regulation
  • q01 - Sustainable Development


  • ESG (Environmental
  • Social
  • Governance)
  • Environmental management
  • Operating performance
  • Return on assets
  • Industry classification


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental management: An industry classification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this