Managing environmental training in organizations

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  • Managing environmental trainingin organizations

    Theoretical review and proposal of a model

    Charbel Jose Chiappetta JabbourUniversity of Sao Paulo (FEARP/USP), Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Adriano Alves TeixeiraFaculty of Engineering (Bauru), UNESP Sao Paulo State University,

    Sao Paulo, Brazil, and

    Jorge Henrique Caldeira de Oliveira and Davi Fouad SoubihiaUniversity of Sao Paulo (FEARP/USP), Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Abstract

    Purpose The aim of this work is to address the issue of environmental training in organizations,presenting a theoretical review on the subject and proposing a model that highlights the importance ofthis type of training for organizations.

    Design/methodology/approach The paper presents a thorough, updated literature review,discusses typology and the best practices of environmental training, and presents a frameworkintegrating environmental training and organizational results.

    Findings A careful consideration allows identifying a significant theoretical gap related to the lackof theoretical references, best practices, and an alignment between environmental training andorganizational results. To overcome this gap, a model was proposed that helps to manage theenvironmental training process in organizations.

    Research limitations/implications The paper needs to be complemented with empiricalresearch on the topic.

    Originality/value Environmental training is considered to be an essential element fororganizations seeking to mitigate their environmental impacts. ISO 14001 states that environmentalmanagement is a duty of certified organizations. However, there have been few published articles thatsuggest models and insights to improve the environmental training in organizations.

    Keywords Environmental management, International standards, Employees, Brazil

    Paper type Conceptual paper

    1. IntroductionThe environmental impacts of productive activities of contemporary organizationsachieved significant magnitude without precedents. At the same time one notices thatgreat humankinds current dilemmas climate change, air pollution, water pollution,increasing garbage production, and finite natural resources are real challenges to thehumankind survival, it can be noted that these challenges have an evidentdisseminating channel: organizations. Therefore, any attempt to change the level ofenvironmental impacts exerted on our planet should consider the participation oforganizations, mainly regarding environmental management (Hunt and Auster, 1990).

    When considering the reduction of environmental impacts by organizations, itmeans making allusions to employees, strategic and operational-level employees,

    The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

    www.emeraldinsight.com/1477-7835.htm

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    Received 20 January 2010Revised 3 March 2010Accepted 15 May 2010

    Management of EnvironmentalQuality: An International JournalVol. 21 No. 6, 2010pp. 830-844q Emerald Group Publishing Limited1477-7835DOI 10.1108/14777831011077673

  • reducing the impact on the environment (Govindarajulu and Daily, 2004; Daily andHuang, 2001). Those employees are responsible for making decisions that are adequateto goods and services production with decreasing environmental impacts. Thus,organizational practices focused on increasing employees awareness of proactiveenvironmental management that can indeed demonstrate the importance of theenvironmental issue for the hierarchical levels, processes, and products developed bythe organization have been highlighted (Jabbour and Santos, 2008). Hence, the greatrelevance of environmental training becomes evident being also considered sine quanon to an environmental management of outstanding quality in organizations (Zutshiand Sohal, 2004).

    Accepting environmental training as an important organizational activity is aconsensus reflected in the literature on environmental management (Unnikrishnan andHegde, 2007; Perron et al., 2006). This is especially true when dealing with theargument that the technical changes made to reduce the environmental impacts of anorganization, such as material or suppliers substitution and the adoption ofenvironmental technologies in the productive processes, are not enough for thedevelopment of a proactive, long-term environmental management (Stone, 2000).However, there are few published articles in order to suggest models and insights toimprove the environmental training in organizations.

    Hence, this study was motivated by the following question: Is it possible to developan environmental training model that could be useful for organizational managers andresearchers to evaluate the diverse environmental training programs dimensions inorder to improve continuously the environmental management practices inorganizations? Consequently, the objective is to propose a model that can integratethe distinct dimensions that can influence the environmental management practices inorganizations reflecting on how environmental training can influence theorganizational results.

    To justify such investigation, it can be said that environmental training has beencited only as an organizational practice relevant to the environmental management inorganizations, so there is a significant theoretical gap related to the lack of details andmodels that can help managers and researchers to understand better those practices.Moreover, the literature does not present a more comprehensive model that includes allcharacteristics this article will address.

    This article is structured as follows: Section 1 Introduction; Section 2 Theoretical review on environmental management and its evolution in the context oforganizations; Section 3 Definitions of training and environmental training, mappingthe scientific studies reported on this topic; Section 4 The best practices ofenvironmental training reported in the literature; Section 5 Proposal of a modellinking the characteristics of an environmental training and organizational results; andSection 6 Conclusions, limitations and recommendations for further research.

    2. Environmental management in organizationsWorries about harming the environment have been widely discussed since the 1970s,when there was clear recognition that organizations should adopt sustainabledevelopment policies (Berry and Rondinelli, 1998) because all organizations generatesome sort of impact on the society and on the environment (Hall, 2004). Environmentalissues have become part of the business world, and this is called environmental

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  • management (Backer, 2002) which is a concept that according to Barbieri (2004) can bedefined as environmental issues that should be taken into account when organizationsmake decisions about strategic planning activities, production, marketing, and R&Damong others. Organizations have been adopting the environmental management forthe production processes and products (for example Porter and Linde, 1995). However,this process adoption does not always occur smoothly in organizations, so someorganizations present a more developed environmental management (Hunt and Auster,1990). According to Brio et al. (2001), having an environment department, does notnecessarily mean that the organization is taking environmental issues into account aspart of its strategies, neither does it mean that its environmental management isadvanced.

    Several studies, such as those of Hunt and Auster (1990), Maimon (1994), Sanches(2000), Rohrich and Cunha (2004), Barbieri (2004), Corazza (2003), Donaire (1994) andDonaire (1999), report the stage of the environmental management development inorganizations. In another study, Jabbour and Santos (2006) attempt to integrate thecommon factors related to the taxonomy developed by those authors by proposing anew classification, which is divided into three stages:

    (1) Functional specialization of environmental dimension (or reactive stage).

    (2) Internal integration of environmental dimension (or preventive stage).

    (3) External integration of the environmental variable (or proactive stage).

    First, in the stage of functional specialization, the organizations environmentaldepartment is established (Corazza, 2003) in order to adopt a reactive behavior towardslegislation policy pressures, as proposed by Maimon (1996). Donaire (1994) states thatenvironment activities are common in the production area of an organization that isworried about its residues. This organization department deals with pollution issuesonly, and do not consider the environmental variable as strategic issue (Jabbour andSantos, 2006). These authors argue that this behavior is common in organizations thatreact slowly to the surrounding changes resulting in a rigid structure, which in turnleads to the stability of the market in which the organization is inserted.

    Next, in the stage of internal integration of environmental management, theenvironmental activities are determined according to the objectives of the organization,mainly those related to pollution control. However, according to Seiffert (2005), theenvironmental performance in this stage is not treated as strategic factor, so theenvironmental objectives are established according to legislations and marketdemands but respecting the organization interests. The environmental managementstarts exerting influence on specific projects, such as product and process development,and fulfilling specific objectives of certain unities of the organization, whichconsequently request more environmental management participation in order to avoidsetbacks that can prevent a smooth running and better execution of the unitysfunctions, and therefore can prevent the fulfillment of the organizations aims ( Jabbourand Santos, 2006).

    In the last evolution stage, the environmental management reaches the externalintegration level. In this stage, the activities are integrated to the strategies of theorganization focusing on explore opportunities in the competitive context of theorganization (Rosen, 2001). There are different benefits for organizations that reachsuch environmental management stage. For example, organizations can reduce costs

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  • through this management activity (Donaire, 1994). The reduction in energyconsumption, in the quantity of residues the organization has to deal with, in theamount of raw material used and wasted, and in the number of fine exemptions aredefined as economic benefits by Seiffert (2005) and Donaire (1994).

    The benefits gained from improving the organizations image in the eyes of thegovernment and activists, and in the market are the most frequently benefitsmentioned (Ginsberg and Bloom, 2004). Exposing the organizations environmentalmanagement proactivity can attract compromised clients who are worried aboutenvironmental issues (Porter and Linde, 1995; Berry and Rondinelli, 1998). Hence, it canbe concluded that the environmental management has a determining role in theorganizations, and its adoption can become a competitive advantage (Molina-Azornet al., 2009; Berry and Rondinelli, 1998). According to Stone (2000), the environmentalpractices that do not involve human resource dimensions, tend to fail. One of the mostrelevant human resource dimensions is environmental training, which aims atpreparing change agents to foster the genesis and development of the environmentalmanagement in organizations.

    3. Environmental trainingAccording to Ivancevich (1995), training can be understood as the systematic processthrough which the employees behavior is directed towards the objectives of theorganization, and is considered essential for its success (Pfeffer, 1998). Goldstein (1993)defines training as the systematic acquisition of knowledge, skills, rules, approaches,and concepts, which result in the work performance improvement. Similarly,Borges-Andrade (2002) argue that training is a systematic organizational action thatfacilitates the acquisition of motor, intellectual, and acting skills and is thedevelopment of cognitive strategies, which can provide improved performance ofcurrent or future activities.

    Milliman and Clair (1996) state that besides being an obligation, with whichorganizations that have achieved ISO 14001 certification have to comply,environmental training is one of the best practices to promote a strategicenvironmental management. The importance of environmental training is that it canpromote employees awareness stimulating proactive environmental actions(Unnikrishnan and Hegde, 2007). Perron et al. (2006) report that the environmentaltraining is a critical factor for the environmental management improvement inorganizations.

    The major literature studies on environmental training are summarized in Table I.From the updated literature review conducted, it can be seen that a gap was found:conceptual models that enable organizational managers and researchers to evaluateproperly environmental training issues in organizations.

    4. Best practices of environmental trainingThe best practices of environmental training considered in this study were selectedduring the process of identification, understanding, and systematization of theliterature available. All the following practices will be detailed along this section:

    . offer environmental training to every organizational level (ISO 14001, 2004);

    . involvement of organizational areas and determination of the multipliers forevery area of an organization (Zutshi and Sohal, 2004);

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  • Research Research summary Research type

    Daily and Huang (2001) Identify human resource factors (HR) such as:support of top management administration,environmental training management, teamwork,and reward systems as key elements to theprocess of implementing the EMS(Environmental Management System). Propose aconceptual model of de HR- EMS factors tofacilitate the environmental managementprogram

    Conceptual

    Fernandez et al. (2003) Highlight the human resource contributions tothe development of an environmentally proactiveculture

    Conceptual

    Zobel and Burman (2004) State that one of the six most important factorsfor the success of an environmental managementsystem is the employees participation

    Empirical

    Babakri et al. (2003) Suggest that the training is a key element forimplementing EMS and approach changes

    Empirical

    Zutshi and Sohal (2004) Indicate that the training is a critical factor forimplementing EMS successfully and approachchanging

    Empirical.

    Zeng et al. (2005) Demonstrate that the training improved theenvironmental awareness

    Empirical.

    Wee and Quazi (2005) Demonstrate that human resource practices arecritical for environmental management inorganizations. Among those practices, theyinclude training as a crucial factor for the successof EMS

    Empirical

    Viebahn (2002) Suggests the use of the EMS model inuniversities with ten items to be followed for thedevelopment of the environmental management,and, in item 9, highlights the importance ofeducation and environmental training

    Empirical

    Von Oelreich (2004) States that dur...