ways that achieve their commitment to an improved environmental performance, suggested Coglianese.
In seeking to understand why some companies performed better than others in their ability to reduce pollution, Coglianese examined management commitment to improving environmental performance. One study showed that leadership commitment played an important role in performance (Kagan, 2005). A survey of 617 facilities in the automobile sector—some of which have been required by General Motors and Ford to adopt an EMS—further tested the management commitment hypothesis. The survey found that firms with an EMS did not make substantial strides in reducing regulated air or water pollution (Andrews et al., 2005). However, they did make improvements in energy efficiency and managing spills. Further, a 2004 study analyzed facilities in states that had mandatory pollution prevention planning laws. The study found that facilities in states with pollution prevention programs reduced toxic release inventory releases by 62,000 pounds, or about an average of a 30 percent reduction (Bennear and Coglianese, 2004). However, studies also report diminishing environmental progress approximately 5–10 years after implementing planning processes. Overall, Coglianese is wary to suggest that an EMS is guaranteed to be an effective method for producing positive long-term environmental effects.
In conclusion, Coglianese suggests that a required EMS can and does make environmental improvements, but one must use caution in distinguishing how much comes from the system and how much comes from the commitment. Systems don’t necessarily lead to improvements, but people and their commitment can. Nevertheless, even facilities that are required to adopt management systems or pollution prevention programs do demonstrate some performance improvements.