The influence of different characteristics of the EU environmental management and auditing scheme on technical environmental innovations and economic performance


Nov 8, 2013 (4 years and 6 months ago)


The influence of different characteristics of the EU environmental
management and auditing scheme on technical environmental
innovations and economic performance
Klaus Rennings
,Andreas Ziegler
,Kathrin Ankele
,Esther Hoffmann
Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW),P.O.Box 103443,D-68034,Mannheim,Germany
Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IO
Received 20 June 2003;received in revised form 16 March 2005;accepted 21 March 2005
Available online 11 May 2005
Environmental modernization of the economy includes the implementation of environmental policies which connect
environmental management to technical environmental innovations and improved economic performance.Some of the most
important instruments in this respect are standards for environmental management systems such as the EU Environmental
Management and Auditing Scheme (EMAS).Based on a unique data set of German EMAS-validated facilities,this paper
investigates the effects of different characteristics of EMAS on technical environmental innovations and economic performance.
Most firms report a positive influence of environmental management systems in general on environmental process innovations.
Furthermore,environmental reports support the diffusion of technical environmental innovations.The econometric analysis
shows a positive impact of the maturity of environmental management systems on environmental process innovations.Another
important determinant of environmental process innovations is the strong participation of specific departments in the further
development of EMAS such as the R&D department.For environmental product innovations,learning processes by environ-
mental management systems have a positive impact.Such learning processes as well as environmental process innovations also
have a positive influence on economic performance.We conclude that a careful design of EMAS is important for both the
environmental and economic performance of a facility.The conclusions should also be relevant for the worldwide ISO 14001
standard since over 55% of the interviewed EMAS-validated firms have also implemented ISO 14001.
D 2005 Elsevier B.V.All rights reserved.
Keywords:Environmental management systems;Environmental innovations;Sustainability;Economic performance
JEL classification:Q55;Q01;O32
Since the world community committed itself in
1992 in the Rio Declaration on Environment and
0921-8009/$ - see front matter D 2005 Elsevier B.V.All rights reserved.
* Corresponding author.Tel.:+49 621 1235 207;fax:+49 621
1235 226.
E-mail (K.Rennings).
Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–59
Development to the principles of sustainable develop-
ment,it has become increasingly clear that sustain-
ability means long-term and far-reaching changes of
technologies.The demand for a radical reduction in
the environmental burden,for example,of greenhouse
gases implies that adaptation within existing technol-
ogies is not sufficient.Instead,regulation strategies to
enforce new technologies have been introduced.This
means that sustainable development needs specific
new types of technical innovations.These kinds of
innovations have been recently introduced into the
ecological economics literature and have been defined
as technical environmental innovations (or eco-inno-
vations,see Rennings,2000).
Such technical environmental innovations receive
increasing attention from policy makers and aca-
demics since they are expected to produce a double
dividend,i.e.,limit the environmental burden and
contribute to the technological modernization of the
economy (see Gabel and Sinclair-Desgagne´,1998).
Environmental modernization also includes the imple-
mentation of environmental policies which connect
environmental management to technical environmen-
tal innovations and improved economic performance.
Some of the most important instruments in this respect
are standards for environmental management systems
(EMS) such as the EU Environmental Management
and Auditing Scheme (EMAS).Implementations of
EMS are intended to promote mainly process innova-
tions towards improved environmental quality in com-
bination with decreased cost,indirectly they may also
stimulate product innovations in the field of eco-effi-
cient products and services.
While the general cost-benefit relation of EMAS
implementation has been the subject of a number of
studies,the influence of EMAS on technical environ-
mental innovations and economic performance has
not been studied systematically until now (see Ankele
et al.,2002).The study of Bradford et al.(2000) is an
exception,but it confines itself methodologically to
case studies and does not offer further analysis of a
representative sample of EMAS-validated facilities.
Against this background,this paper examines the
determinants and economic effects of technical envir-
onmental innovations with a focus on the role of
EMAS.It goes beyond the existing literature since
it is able to derive representative results on the basis
of a broad survey of German EMAS-validated facil-
ities.On this basis,we are able to compare differ-
ences of EMAS regarding their impacts on technical
environmental innovations and economic perfor-
mance due to different characteristics,particularly
depending on the specific implementation in a certain
facility.Such differences can be caused,for example,
by the maturity of the EMS,by the strategic goals
underlying the EMAS implementation,or organiza-
tional aspects such as the participation of different
levels of hierarchy and departments in EMAS within
a facility.
In doing so,this paper contributes to the ecological
economics literature in several ways.Instead of con-
sidering the determinants of voluntary environmental
organizational measures or examining other proxies
for environmental performance such as toxic chemi-
cals according to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) in
the US,we analyze the effect of such voluntary
measures on technical environmental innovations
and economic performance.Furthermore,this study
includes some insights from empirical industrial eco-
nomics,i.e.,we do not utilize (environmental) patents
as a proxy for technical (environmental) innovations,
but consider the output of the innovation process.
Finally,this paper analyzes data at the facility level
in the manufacturing sector.Since these data make it
possible to distinguish between environmental pro-
duct and process innovations,we examine the deter-
minants and economic effects of environmental
innovations more precisely than earlier studies.
The paper is organized as follows.As a first step,
we define different types of environmental innova-
tions in Section 2 and explain why we focus on
technical environmental innovations.Section 3
reviews the literature on EMS,environmental inno-
vations,and environmental policy instruments
designed to stimulate the environmental innovation.
The conceptual approach is also presented here.
Section 4 describes the data based on case studies
and a broad survey of German EMAS-validated facil-
ities.Section 5 discusses our econometric approach
regarding the impacts of different characteristics of
EMAS on technical environmental innovations and
economic performance.In Section 6,we present
some descriptive statistics of the survey data.Section
7 analyzes the econometric results.Section 8 draws
some conclusions and offers directions for further
K.Rennings et al./Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–5946
2.Types of environmental innovations
The OECD (1997) Guidelines for Collecting and
Interpreting Technological Innovation Data distin-
guish between technical and organizational innova-
tions,with technical innovations being divided into
process and product innovations (see Fig.1):
!Process innovations enable the production of a
given amount of output (goods,services) with
less input.
!Product innovations encompass the improvement
of goods and services or the development of new
!Organizational innovations include new forms of
management such as total quality management.
The general definition of a technical innovation
considers three aspects:it has to be based on new
technology knowledge,it must have been already
implemented (i.e.,newproducts must have been intro-
duced on the market or new processes must have been
introduced in the firm),and it only has to be new for
the firm itself,not necessarily for the market.Techni-
cal environmental innovations as specific kinds of
innovations consist of new or modified products and
processes to avoid or reduce the environmental burden
(see,e.g.,Rennings and Zwick,2002).An important
peculiarity of technical environmental innovations is
the so-called double externality problem (see
Rennings,2000).These specific innovations produce
not only the common spillovers of innovations in
general,but they also create less environmental exter-
nal costs (see,e.g.,Jaffe et al.,2002).While the whole
of society benefits from a technical environmental
innovation,the costs have to be borne by a single
firm.Even if such an innovation can be successfully
marketed,it is difficult for the company to appropriate
the profits of this innovation if the corresponding
knowledge is easily accessible for imitators and the
environmental benefits have a public good character.
As a consequence,the double externality problem
leads to the increasing importance of regulation
since both externalities result in a suboptimal invest-
ment in technical environmental innovations.
This definition of technical environmental innova-
tions based on the OECD definition is in line with the
technical guidelines of the Society of German Engi-
neers (VDI) which set forth industrial environmental
protection measures and their respective costs (VDI,
2001).Environmental process innovations are com-
monly subdivided into innovations in end-of-pipe
technologies and innovation in integrated technolo-
gies (or,in other words,cleaner production technolo-
gies,see Fig.1).According to the VDI (2001),end-
of-pipe technologies do not make up an essential part
of the production process,but are add-on measures so
as to comply with environmental requirements.Incin-

Product Innovations
Process Innovations
Innovations in
End-of-pipe Technologies
Innovations in
Cleaner Production Technologies
(Integrated Technologies)
Fig.1.Types of environmental innovations.
K.Rennings et al./Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–59 47
eration plants (waste disposal),waste water treatment
plants (water protection),sound absorbers (noise
abatement),and exhaust-gas cleaning equipment (air
quality control) are typical examples of end-of-pipe
technologies.In contrast,cleaner production technol-
ogies are seen as directly reducing environmentally
harmful impacts during the production process.The
recirculation of materials,the use of environmentally
friendly materials (e.g.,replacing organic solvents by
water),and the modification of the combustion cham-
ber design (process-integrated systems) are examples
of cleaner production technologies.Typically,end-of-
pipe technologies such as filters utilized for desul-
phurization aim at diminishing harmful substances
that occur as by-products of production.In contrast,
cleaner production technologies generally lead to both
reductions of by-products and energy and resource
Finally,environmental organizational innovations
include the re-organization of processes and respon-
sibilities within the firm with the objective to reduce
environmental impacts.EMS are typical examples of
such organizational measures.Environmental organi-
zational innovations contribute to the firms’ techno-
logical opportunities and can be supporting factors for
technical environmental innovations.In this paper,we
analyze whether such technical environmental inno-
vations are stimulated by different characteristics of
EMAS as typical examples of environmental organi-
zational measures.Additionally,we look at the
impacts of different characteristics of EMAS on vari-
ables of economic performance such as the increase of
the number of employees,turnover,or exports.
3.Literature review and conceptual approach
To date,the theoretical literature on the relationship
between environmental policy and technical environ-
mental innovations has mainly focused on the choice
of an optimal policy instrument to induce such inno-
vations (see Jaffe et al.,2002).The superiority of
market-based instruments such as taxes and tradable
permits has been the basic lesson from ecological
economics for a long time.These instruments have
been identified as environmental policy instruments
with the highest dynamic efficiency (innovation effi-
ciency).Their advantage is that they give permanent
incentives for further,cost-efficient reductions of
environmental impacts.They are particularly more
cost-efficient than command and control regulation
(see Downing and White,1986;Milliman and Prince,
Modifications to the rule have been derived in
recent models considering endogenous technical
environmental innovation and imperfect competition
(see Carraro,2000;Montero,2002).While the super-
iority of market-based instruments was confirmed for
situations with perfect competition and full informa-
tion,the situation changes when firms gain strategic
advantages from such innovations (strategic behavior
means that impacts of one’s own activities on other
firms are taken into account).In such situations,stan-
dards may be more appropriate for stimulating tech-
nical environmental innovations.Finally,Fischer et al.
(2003) as well as Requate and Unold (2003) compare
different market-based instruments (emissions taxes,
auctioned permits,grandfathered permits).Fischer et
al.(2003) do not find a clear ranking of the instru-
ments.No instrument is generally preferable,and the
welfare gain of environmental policy instruments
depends on different sets of circumstances,i.e.,on
the number of polluting firms,the costs of an innova-
tion,and the costs of imitating an innovation.Requate
and Unold (2003) identify taxes as the instrument
providing the highest innovation incentives,however,
these incentives may be too high and thus lead to
over-investment in abatement technology.
Summing up,the conclusion can be drawn that the
theoretical debate on dynamic efficiency is still open.
Nor is it agreed that the analysis and comparison of
single environmental policy instruments is a useful
approach to draw a realistic picture of the problem,
given the situation that in most cases several instru-
ments from several policy areas affect technical envir-
onmental innovations simultaneously,and given the
situation that regulation is only one factor affecting
such innovations among many others (see SRU,
2002).A general problem is the lack of empirical
contributions to the discussion,and that the firm
level is treated more or less as a black box in theore-
tical approaches.
In this study,we look empirically at the facility
level and analyze the effect of environmental organi-
zational measures on technical environmental innova-
tions and economic performance.Environmental
K.Rennings et al./Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–5948
organizational measures play an important role in the
discussion of non-mandatory approaches in environ-
mental policy (see Khanna,2001).It is,for example,
argued that public voluntary programs encouraging
proactive environmental management such as 33/50,
which is initiated by the U.S.Environmental Protec-
tion Agency (EPA),may be useful supplements to
traditional mandatory command and control regula-
tions (see,e.g.,Arora and Cason,1995;Khanna and
Damon,1999).Other initiatives refer to standards for
EMS such as the world-wide ISO 14001 and the
European EMAS.Regarding environmental product
innovations,existing valuation studies on EMS have
shown that a number of positive examples of firms
improving the environmental performance of their
products in the context of their environmental man-
agement do exist.Yet a majority of the firms limit
their environmental management to dealing with pro-
duction processes and firm organization (see Ju¨rgens
et al.,1997;Dyllick and Hamschmidt,1999).On the
basis of this experience,the Council of the European
Union (2000) in its revision of EMAS explicitly
requires the inclusion of product planning and prior
assessment of environmental consequences of new
Our econometric analysis differs from other econo-
metric studies as these examine the determinants of
environmental organizational measures.For example,
Nakamura et al.(2001) consider the determinants of
ISO 14001 implementation and additionally of envir-
onmental management measures over and above the
ISO 14001 implementation.Econometric analyses can
also be found in Arora and Cason (1995,1996)
explaining the participation in the 33/50 program,in
Henriques and Sardorsky (1996) explaining the for-
mulation of an environmental plan,in DeCanio and
Watkins (1998) explaining the participation in the
Green Lights program,in Videras and Alberini
(2000) explaining the participation in the 33/50,
Green Lights,and Waste Wise programs,or in
Khanna and Anton (2002) explaining the comprehen-
siveness of EMS.Note that public voluntary programs
such as 33/50,Green Lights,or Waste Wise do not
imply any penalties for withdrawal at any time.But
regarding the environmental behavior of companies,
the examination of voluntary environmental organiza-
tional measures such as the participation in non-bind-
ing environmental plans (even if there are clear targets
to limit the environmental burden such as in the 33/50
program for toxic releases) does not appear to be
sufficient.In other words,such measures do not guar-
antee an improvement in environmental performance
(see,e.g.,Dasgupta et al.,2000;Anton et al.,in
press).Thus,it appears to be important to analyze
the effect of voluntary environmental organizational
measures on broader proxies for environmental per-
formance (see,e.g.,Nakamura et al.,2001).
Studies regarding the influence of such measures on
far-reaching indicators for environmental performance
can,for example,be found in Khanna and Damon
(1999),King and Lenox (2000),Dasgupta et al.
(2000),or Anton et al.(in press).In the first step,all
these studies also examine (like the aforementioned
studies) the determinants of voluntary environmental
organizational measures.In the second step,Dasgupta
et al.(2000) analyze the influence of four different
environmental management (including ISO 14001-
type) variables on self-assessed compliance with envir-
onmental regulations.In contrast,Khanna and Damon
(1999) examine the effect of the participation in the 33/
50 programand Anton et al.(in press) the effect of the
comprehensiveness of some environmental manage-
ment practices on toxic releases.Finally,King and
Lenox (2000) consider the impact of the participation
in the Responsible Care Program on the improvement
regarding toxic releases.While the former three studies
show some positive influence on environmental per-
formance,the latter cannot prove that participation in
the Responsible Care Program improves the environ-
mental performance more than non-participation.
Concerning the inclusion of some voluntary envir-
onmental organizational measures as determinants of
environmental performance,our study has some ana-
logies to these analyses.But there are also important
conceptual differences.Most notably,we utilize envir-
onmental product and process innovations as indica-
tors for environmental performance instead of the use
of narrower proxies such as toxic chemicals according
to the TRI or self-assessed environmental regulatory
In this respect,Jaffe and Palmer (1997) examine
the effect of environmental regulatory compliance
expenditure on technical innovations.However,note
that they consider innovation activities in general,i.e.,
not specifically environmental activities.Econometric
analyses of the determinants of technical environmen-
K.Rennings et al./Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–59 49
tal innovations can be found in Cleff and Rennings
(1999),Pickman (1998),and Brunnermeier and
Cohen (2003).However,none of these three studies
consider neither the effect of voluntary environmental
organizational measures in general or the effect of
different characteristics of EMAS in particular.
Furthermore,the latter two studies utilize environmen-
tal patents as a measure of technical environmental
innovations.But it should be noted that according to
empirical industrial economics (see,e.g.,Brouwer and
Kleinknecht,1999),patents (which are also utilized in
Jaffe and Palmer,1997) are a problematic indicator for
innovations (see also Kleinknecht et al.,2002).This is
because patents refer to inventions which are placed at
the beginning of the total innovation process and
which do not necessarily lead to product or process
innovations.Therefore,we do not utilize (environ-
mental) patents as a proxy for technical (environmen-
tal) innovations.Instead,we consider the output of the
innovation process and thus apply the innovation
definition according to the Oslo Manual of the
OECD (1997) as discussed above.But most notably,
Pickman (1998) and Brunnermeier and Cohen (2003)
(in the same way as Jaffe and Palmer,1997) only
utilize aggregated data at the industry level.Thus,
they are not able to analyze the firm-specific determi-
nants of technical environmental innovations with the
result that the conclusions based on their analysis are
also limited.In contrast,our analysis is based on
disaggregated data at the facility level.
4.Survey data
As a basis for the telephone survey (regarding the
design of the questionnaire),we have carried out in
spring and summer 2001 twelve case studies within
German EMAS-validated facilities (in Baden-Wu¨rt-
temberg) which covered the most important economic
sectors.For these case studies,environmental reports
were analyzed and semi-structured face-to-face inter-
views with facility representatives were conducted.
The survey focus (technical environmental innova-
tions,maturity of EMS,strategic importance of
EMAS,learning processes by EMS,organizational
scope of EMAS,economic performance) falls within
the competencies of the EMAS manager,general man-
ager,and R&D manager.As a consequence,these
three groups were chosen as interviewees in the case
studies.In this process,some items were allocated to
more than one group to depict different perspectives
and to narrow the margin of error.In order to examine
maturity of EMS,facilities that had been validated to
EMAS for several years were chosen.
On this basis,a broad telephone survey of EMAS-
validated facilities was conducted.In this way,it was
possible to analyze the impacts of different character-
istics of EMAS on technical environmental innova-
tions and economic performance.Note that,as a
consequence,a comparative analysis of EMAS-vali-
dated facilities and other facilities (that are not
EMAS-validated) is not possible due to data restric-
tions and remains for future studies to undertake.The
survey was conducted between February 2002 and
June 2002.It was the intention that all German man-
ufacturing facilities (NACE-Codes 15,17–41)
EMAS-validated in 2001 were interviewed.The
addresses of the facilities were drawn from an
online-database of the chamber of industry and com-
merce (see DIHK,2001),comprising 2270 entries.
The facilities had been notified in advance by mail
of the forthcoming survey.The respective person
responsible for EMAS was the target of the telephone
survey.They were chosen because our case studies
had shown that they were most competent with regard
to our set of questions compared to other relevant
persons (general manager,R&D manager).In addi-
tion,the case studies had shown no systematic differ-
ences between these groups with regard to their
evaluation of the effects of different characteristics
of EMAS on technical environmental innovations
and economic performance.
As shown in Table 1,of the 2270 German EMAS-
validated manufacturing facilities,372 (=16.4%)
Table 1
Response rates of the survey
Number of
Share of all
facilities (%)
Share of all
reached (%)
Participations 1277 56.3 67.3
Refusals 621 27.4 32.7
Facilities reached 1898 83.6 100.0
Facilities not reached 372 16.4
Notified facilities
2270 100.0
K.Rennings et al./Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–5950
could not be reached,621 (=27.4%) refused to parti-
cipate in the survey,and 1277 (=56.3%) participated
in the survey.The shares among all facilities reached
are as follows:67.3% were interviewed,32.7%
refused to participate.The responses show no bias
concerning industries or domestic regions,i.e.,the
completed interviews are representative regarding
German EMAS-validated facilities in the manufactur-
ing sector with regard to these attributes.
5.Econometric approach
With regard to the econometric analysis of the
survey data,we utilize binary probit models.The
models can be characterized as elements of a two-
level impact approach.At level one,we test whether
one of the explanatory variables illustrated in Table 2
increases the probability of technical environmental
innovations.We analyze internal and external factors,
using either environmental process or product innova-
tions as dependent variables for the analysis.Afacility
is regarded as an environmental process innovator in
the econometric analysis if the firm has implemented
an environmental process-integrated measure and at
least one measure on preceding and succeeding stages
(procurement,energy production,distribution)
between 1999 and 2001.A facility is regarded as an
environmental product innovator if it has improved
the environmental characteristics of at least one pro-
duct within this time period.Note that with regard to
technical measures,it is common to presume that
these are only to be deemed innovative if changes to
processes or products have been made in the preced-
ing 3 years.
At level two,the impact of technical environmental
innovations on a set of indicators of economic perfor-
mance (i.e.,the increase in the number of employees,
turnover,and exports between 1999 and 2001) is
examined.As variables to explain economic perfor-
mance,we choose besides the implementation of
these innovations,those variables which have been
examined as determinants of technical environmental
innovations.This approach seems appropriate due to
the lack of theoretically better specified models since
it is better not to exclude variables that may poten-
tially explain economic performance.As the literature
holds no consensus on indicators of economic perfor-
mance,a multitude of indicators were examined.It
should however be noted that the person responsible
for EMAS as the interviewee is a person who can
often report only at a general level on the facility’s
economic performance.Specific knowledge on other
indicators of economic performance from the fields of
production management (productivity indicators) or
marketing research (e.g.,indicators of customer satis-
faction) usually falls within the competencies of the
general management.
The explanatory variables for the binary probit
models include external factors such as industry struc-
ture and internal factors such as facility size.Indeed,
the explanatory variables particularly include different
Table 2
Dependent and explanatory variables for technical environmental
innovations and economic performance (binary probit models)
Dependent variables for technical environmental innovations
!Environmental process innovations
!Environmental product innovations
Dependent variables for economic performance
!Increase in the facility’s economic performance,measured via
performance indicators (number of employees,turnover,exports)
Explanatory variables for technical environmental innovations
and economic performance
!Maturity of EMS (age of EMAS,two re-validations of EMAS,
prior experience concerning the organization of environmental
protection,ISO 14001 validation)
!Strategic importance of EMAS
!Learning processes by EMS
!Organizational scope of EMAS (strong participation of general
management,executives,all employees,R&D department,
production,marketing,administration and distribution in further
development of EMAS)
!Technical environmental innovations and environmental
organizational measures
!Environmental innovation targets (environmental improvement,
image,compliance with regulations,anticipation of future
regulations,cost reduction,market shares)
!Importance of factors for economic performance (price,quality,
customer satisfaction,innovation,environmental issues)
!Additional facility-specific variables:
Age of facility
Supplier to environmental protection market
Share of turnover with industrial customers
Facility size (number of employees)
Employee qualification (share of employees with university
Share of turnover
Share of exports
Legal independence
!Domestic region (country)
K.Rennings et al./Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–59 51
characteristics of EMS,especially regarding their
maturity.The influence of the maturity of EMS can
be specified by a phase model of the temporal devel-
opment (see Kottmann et al.,1999),which assumes
that in phase one the formal elements of the EMS are
being installed,followed by an analysis and re-orga-
nization of the technical and organizational processes
in phase two and the broadening of the facility-related
EMS towards co-operations in phase three.The dis-
tinction between phases one and two is more of an
analytical nature because the formal elements are
always being introduced for the purpose of develop-
ing and implementing managerial actions.Yet the
beginning of the introduction process is marked by
the elaboration of competencies,responsibilities and
structures.The transition from phase one to phase two
usually takes place in the first validation cycle.In
order to test the phase model,the variable maturity
of EMS needs to be determined.We have used the
following variables:age of EMAS,two re-validations
of EMAS,prior experience concerning the organiza-
tion of environmental protection,and ISO 14001 vali-
dation.The tested hypothesis is that more mature
EMAS-validated facilities implement technical envir-
onmental innovations to a higher degree compared to
EMAS-validated facilities in an earlier phase.
Another important characteristic of EMS in
EMAS-validated facilities is the strategic importance
of EMAS,i.e.,the link between (operational) envir-
onmental management and strategic management.The
argument of Dyllick and Hamschmidt (2000) proves
that when EMAS is confined to environmental protec-
tion at the operational level and remains under-devel-
oped at the strategic level,it loses importance when
the low hanging fruits are harvested.If environmental
management and strategic management are linked,
EMAS may be developed towards more extensive
measures such as co-operation along the value chain
and product planning.Finally,we have included learn-
ing processes by EMS and organizational scope of
EMAS (i.e.,the strong participation of different levels
of hierarchy and departments in further development
of EMAS) as specific characteristics of EMAS.
6.Descriptive statistics
Before we start the econometric analysis,we exam-
ine some descriptive statistics since they can give a
certain intuition regarding the relation between differ-
ent characteristics of EMAS,technical environmental
innovations,and economic performance.Note that the
EMAS-validated facilities have been asked to name
all implemented technical environmental innovations.
In this respect,in addition to the measures described
above,we have also analyzed end-of-pipe innovations
and innovations in process recycling between 1999
and 2001 regarding environmental process innova-
tions in the production process.In addition,we have
asked the person responsible for EMAS if these inno-
vations from his/her point of view were substantially
influenced by EMAS.Table 3 reports the results.
Concerning environmental process innovations in
the production process,81.8% of the 1277 EMAS-
validated interviewed facilities implemented process-
integrated innovations.54.3%have implemented end-
Table 3
Environmental innovations implemented by the interviewed EMAS-validated facilities
(a) Innovation implemented between 1999
and 2001
(b) Substantial contribution by EMS
[if (a)—yes]
Yes No Do not know Yes No Do not know
Environmental process innovations
Production process
Process-integrated 1044 81.8% 219 17.1% 14 1.1% 640 61.3% 396 37.9% 8 0.8%
End-of-pipe 693 54.3% 567 44.4% 17 1.3% 431 62.2% 258 37.2% 4 0.6%
Process recycling 479 37.5% 783 61.3% 15 1.2% 300 62.6% 175 36.5% 4 0.8%
Preceding and succeeding stages
Procurement 727 56.9% 517 40.5% 33 2.6% 536 73.7% 189 26.0% 2 0.3%
Energy production 324 25.4% 942 73.8% 11 0.9% 180 55.6% 144 44.4% 0 0.0%
Distribution 501 39.2% 744 58.3% 32 2.5% 288 57.5% 211 42.1% 2 0.4%
Environmental product innovations 561 43.9% 685 53.6% 31 2.4% 277 49.4% 281 50.1% 3 0.5%
K.Rennings et al./Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–5952
of-pipe innovations while only 37.5% have imple-
mented innovations in process recycling.In all three
categories,a little over 60% of the innovating facil-
ities state that EMS has made a substantial con-
tribution.With regard to environmental process
innovations in preceding and succeeding stages,
56.9%of the interviewed facilities implemented envir-
onmental innovations in procurement,which most
facilities (73.7%) perceive to have been substantially
influenced by EMS.Environmental innovations in
energy production were reported much less frequently.
Only 25.4%of the facilities introduced changes in this
regard.In the majority of these cases (55.6%),EMS
had a substantial influence on this measure.Environ-
mental innovations in distribution were reported by
39.2%,which mostly (57.5%) were substantially
influenced by EMS.Finally,43.9% of the 1277 inter-
viewed EMAS-validated facilities have implemented
environmentally improved or new products between
1999 and 2001,which in 49.4% of the cases were
substantially influenced by EMS.This percentage
regarding environmental product innovations is higher
than expected.
The experience from the case studies was that the
participation of different levels of hierarchy and
departments in EMS is decisive for technical environ-
mental innovations.In the broad survey,these factors
were taken into account via variables for the partici-
pation of different levels of hierarchy and departments
in further development of EMAS.Table 4 reports the
corresponding results.For the most part,the 1277
EMAS-validated interviewed facilities perceive a
strong participation of executives in general in further
development of EMAS.Over 50% stated that general
management and other executives were strongly
involved groups while less than 12% credited these
groups with weak or no participation.The participa-
tion of all employees is much less pronounced.Only
20.0% of the facilities claimed that these have
strongly participated in further development of
EMAS,54.0% reported it as being moderate.With
regard to various departments,participation is com-
paratively weak.Production is reported to be strongly
involved by 39.2%of the respondents and moderately
involved by 40.0%.With these figures,production is
the most involved department whereas the R&D
department,marketing,administration,and distribu-
tion are far behind.The R&D department,in particu-
lar,is mentioned to have strongly participated in
further development of EMAS by only 18.4% and
moderately participated by 20.5% of the respondents.
Environmental reports as required by EMAS may
support the diffusion of technical environmental inno-
vations.This may take place either because of it
brings about increased openness on the part of the
facilities,thus encouraging co-operation among facil-
ities,or as a result of the diffusion of information on
environmentally innovative solutions.Following
Clausen et al.(1997),facilities sometimes use other
facility’s environmental reports for comparisons.In
order to check this finding,we have also analyzed
the use of other facility’s environmental reports (pos-
sible answers in the survey:use for own environmen-
tal report,use for environmental process innovations,
use for environmental product innovations,no use).
Table 5 shows the results.71.4% of all interviewed
facilities use other facilities’ environmental reports for
the preparation of their own reports.At least a sub-
stantial share of the respondents uses them to gather
ideas for technical environmental innovations.34.6%
of the respondents state that they gather ideas for
environmental process innovations,for 20.2% this is
Table 4
Participation of different levels of hierarchy and departments in further development of EMAS
Levels of hierarchy and departments Strong participation Moderate participation Weak participation No participation Unknown
General management 738 (57.8%) 380 (29.8%) 98 (7.7%) 54 (4.2%) 7 (0.5%)
Executives 690 (54.0%) 439 (34.4%) 78 (6.1%) 54 (4.2%) 16 (1.3%)
All employees 256 (20.0%) 689 (54.0%) 253 (19.8%) 66 (5.2%) 13 (1.0%)
R&D department 235 (18.4%) 262 (20.5%) 116 (9.1%) 494 (38.7%) 170 (13.3%)
Production 501 (39.2%) 511 (40.0%) 136 (10.7%) 108 (8.5%) 21 (1.6%)
Marketing 218 (17.1%) 385 (30.1%) 334 (26.2%) 271 (21.2%) 69 (5.4%)
Administration 167 (13.1%) 428 (33.5%) 445 (34.8%) 197 (15.4%) 40 (3.1%)
Distribution 198 (15.5%) 423 (33.1%) 347 (27.2%) 248 (19.4%) 61 (4.8%)
K.Rennings et al./Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–59 53
true with regard to environmental product innova-
tions.21.5% of the facilities do not use other facil-
ities’ environmental reports at all.On the whole,it can
be concluded that,from the facilities’ point of view,
environmental reports are very useful for the diffusion
of technical environmental innovations.This result
holds true for all industry sectors and size groups.
Finally,the broad survey obtained the result that
50.0% of the 1277 interviewed facilities attribute a
strategic importance to EMAS while for 47.5% it has
only an operative relevance.
7.Econometric results
7.1.Determinants of technical environmental
Concerning the econometric analysis of determi-
nants of technical environmental innovations and eco-
nomic performance,the summarized findings in
Tables 6 and 7 are the results of various probit
model estimations.Different model specifications
refer to the different inclusion of several explanatory
variables (for details of the different binary probit
models see Rennings et al.,2005).These estimations
have been performed to avoid potential multi-coli-
nearity problems.For example,such problems may
arise if all variables of the maturity of EMS were
simultaneously included as explanatory factors.
Comparing the econometric results of the determi-
nants of either environmental process or product inno-
vations according to Table 6,a difference with regard
to the phase model can be observed.While maturity of
EMS (i.e.,two re-validations of EMAS and prior
experience concerning the organization of environ-
mental protection) is an important determinant of
environmental process innovations,there is no appar-
ent relationship between maturity of EMS and envir-
onmental product innovation.This may be due to the
fact that indirect environmental effects and conse-
quently a product-oriented focus has only recently
been increased with the revision of EMAS and will
only be given more attention in the future.Another
reason (also suggested by the case studies) are the
different positions in the value chain and related scope
for innovation.More mature EMAS-validated facil-
ities have no lead regarding environmental product
innovations,in contrast to environmental process
innovations where EMAS has required an integrated
approach all along.
Concerning the organizational scope of EMAS,a
strong participation of general management,distribu-
tion,and the R&D department in further development
of EMAS has a positive influence on environmental
process innovations.As for the maturity of EMS,
these variables do not have a significant impact on
Table 5
Use of other facilities’ environmental reports
Use for Number of
Share of
facilities (%)
Own environmental report 912 71.4
Environmental process innovations 442 34.6
Environmental product innovations 259 20.2
No use 275 21.5
Table 6
Results of binary probit models for the explanation of technical
environmental innovations
Dependent variable:environmental process innovations
++ Two re-validations of EMAS,prior experience concerning
the organization of environmental protection,strategic
importance of EMAS,strong participation of general
management in further development of EMAS,strong
participation of R&D department in further development
of EMAS,strong participation of distribution in further
development of EMAS,environmental improvement as
environmental innovation target,compliance with
regulations as environmental innovation target,facility size
+ Explicit consideration of environmental aspects in product
development,legal independence
￿ Strong participation of executives in further development of
EMAS,employee suggestion scheme,innovation as
important economic performance factor
Dependent variable:environmental product innovations
++ Learning processes by EMS,image as environmental
innovation target,market shares as environmental
innovation target,price as important economic performance
factor,supplier to environmental protection market
￿ ￿ Share of turnover with industrial customers
+ Innovation as important economic performance factor
￿ Environmental indicators,employee qualification
++(￿￿) means that the explanatory variable always has a positive
(negative) effect on the dependent variable at the 5% level of
+(￿) means that the explanatory variable always has a positive
(negative) effect on the dependent variable at the 10% level of
K.Rennings et al./Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–5954
environmental product innovations.A strong partici-
pation of executives in further development of EMAS
even has a negative effect on environmental process
innovations.A relationship between strategic impor-
tance of EMAS and environmental innovations can
also only partially be observed.The corresponding
variable has a positive influence on environmental
process innovations.As we have defined environmen-
tal process innovators as facilities that have introduced
at least one measure on preceding or succeeding
stages of the value chain,this can be interpreted as
a high importance of a strategic orientation for not
location-bound initiatives.The results suggest that the
strategic deficit is not as important as Dyllick and
Hamschmidt (2000) feared it would be.
Learning processes by EMS have a positive impact
on environmental product innovations.Finally,a
further environmental organizational measure,namely
the explicit consideration of environmental aspects in
product development also has a positive influence on
environmental process innovations.In contrast,an
employee suggestion scheme has a negative impact
on environmental process innovations as well as
environmental indicators have a negative effect on
environmental product innovations.
Concerning the other explanatory variables,it is
quite remarkable that the environmental innovation
target bcompliance with regulationsQ has a positive
influence on environmental process innovations
whereas image and market shares targets have a rather
positive influence on environmental product innova-
tions.Price and innovation as important economic
performance factors show a tendency to have a posi-
tive influence on environmental product innovations.
Facilities that supply to environmental protection mar-
kets,that have a low employee qualification,or that
have a high share of turnover with consumers rather
than with industrial customers (other facility charac-
teristics being similar) show a greater probability to
implement environmental product innovations.Facil-
ity size and legal independence have a positive influ-
ence on environmental process innovations.
7.2.Determinants of economic performance
Concerning different characteristics of EMAS as
determinants of economic performance,Table 7
shows a positive influence of learning processes by
EMS on the increase of turnover and exports.Further-
more,while the participation of the environmental
manager in product development as a further environ-
mental organizational has a positive influence on the
increase of exports,an environmental team has nega-
tive impact on the increase of turnover.But in parti-
cular,the influence of environmental process
innovations on economic performance of EMAS-vali-
dated facilities is positive.These innovations have a
positive effect on the increase of the number of
employees and turnover.Yet this positive relationship
does not hold for exports.
Concerning the other explanatory variables,price
as an important economic performance factor has a
negative influence on economic performance.This
relationship does not hold for the increase in exports
because of apparent price competition in international
markets.A negative impact of cost reduction as an
environmental innovation target on the increase in the
number of employees can be explained by rationaliza-
tion effects incurred pursuing this target.Environmen-
Table 7
Results of binary probit models for the explanation of economic
Dependent variable:increase in the number of employees
++ Environmental process innovation,legal independence,
share of turnover,employee qualification
￿ ￿ Cost reduction as environmental innovation target,age of
￿ Price as important economic performance factor
Dependent variable:increase in turnover
++ Environmental process innovation,learning processes by
EMS,legal independence,facility size,share of exports
￿ ￿ Environmental team (before 1999),price as important
economic performance factor,age of facility
Dependent variable:increase in exports
++ Participation of the environmental manager in product
development (before 1999),learning processes by EMS,
facility size
￿ ￿ Environmental improvement as environmental innovation
target,environmental issues as important economic
performance factor
￿ Age of facility
++(￿￿) means that the explanatory variable always has a positive
(negative) effect on the dependent variable at the 5% level of
+(￿) means that the explanatory variable always has a positive
(negative) effect on the dependent variable at the 10% level of
K.Rennings et al./Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–59 55
tal improvement as an environmental innovation tar-
get and environmental issues as an important eco-
nomic performance factor have a negative influence
on the increase in exports.It can be interpreted that
facilities with a strong environmental commitment are
less oriented on international markets and exports.
Other factors showing a positive influence on the
economic performance of EMAS-validated facilities
are low facility age,large facility size,large employee
qualification,legal independence,and a large share of
exports and turnover.
8.Conclusions and directions for further research
It can be summarized that most German EMAS-
validated facilities report a positive influence of EMS
on environmental process innovations.In addition,
environmental reports support the diffusion of techni-
cal environmental innovations.The study shows as
well that environmental process innovations particu-
larly depend on the maturity of EMS (measured as
two re-validations of EMAS and prior experience
concerning the organization of environmental protec-
tion).Another important determinant of environmen-
tal process innovations is the strong participation of
specific departments in the further development of
EMAS such as the R&D department.For environ-
mental product innovations,learning processes by
EMS have a positive impact.Learning processes by
EMS also have a positive effect on the increase of
turnover and exports.But in particular,environmental
process innovations have a positive influence on the
increase of the number of employees and turnover.
We conclude that a careful design of EMAS is
important for both the environmental and economic
performance of a facility.Therefore,facilities can
improve their economic performance by a better link-
age between environmental management and innova-
tion management.The organizational implementation
of environmental and innovation management is rele-
vant in this regard.The participation of other depart-
ments such as the R&D department is an important
factor in inducing technical environmental innova-
tions within the facility.
A practical policy question is what EMS standard
should be supported and whether EMAS should be
privileged in this regard.Concerning the question of
technical environmental innovations,it has become
clear that EMAS can make a difference.Unlike the
ISO 14001 standard,EMAS requires external com-
munication via an environmental report.Our study
shows that the environmental reports of other facilities
are being used for gathering ideas for a facility’s own
technical environmental innovations.This is definitely
an advantage in comparison to ISO 14001.Admit-
tedly,many companies that participate in ISO 14001
publish a voluntary environmental report.In an
empirical study on Swiss companies adhering to
ISO 14001,Dyllick and Hamschmidt (2000) found
that one third published an environmental report and
another 25% were planning to do so.The importance
of environmental reports for triggering technical
environmental innovations in comparison to other
information sources such as business associations or
consultants would be worthwhile for further research.
If the importance of environmental reports could be
proved even in comparison to other sources,this
would justify the discrimination between the two
standards with regard to political support.Or if this
is not desired or possible,it could be advisable to link
equal treatment of ISO 14001 to the voluntary pub-
lication of an environmental report.
In the past,however,some countries have linked
preferential treatment of EMAS with granting of reg-
ulatory relief for registered companies (see Wa¨tzold
and Bu¨ltmann,2001).Regarding the diffusion of
EMS standards,EMAS is however well behind ISO
14001.Glachant et al.(2002) are quite pessimistic
regarding the further diffusion of EMAS due to lim-
ited potentials for regulatory relief.These potentials
are restricted by national traditions,they differ from
country to country and many firms are already dis-
appointed since benefits of EMAS implementation
turned out to be lower than expected.Thus it seems
to be important to link preferential treatment to the
communication performance of firms,not to expecta-
tions regarding deregulation.
Overall,the differences between EMAS and ISO
14001 seem to be less important with regard to the
scope of our study.The first versions of EMAS and
ISO 14001 showed significant differences between
the two schemes encompassing the environmental
report,the initial environmental review,the frequency
of the audit cycle,compliance,etc.Most differences
were diminished in the revision of the schemes,which
K.Rennings et al./Ecological Economics 57 (2006) 45–5956
took place in 2000 with regard to EMAS and in 2004
with regard to ISO 14001 through mutual adoption of
elements.For example,the description of the manage-
ment system in ISO 14001 was transferred to EMAS
and the difference between direct and indirect envir-
onmental aspects was incorporated into ISO 14001.
Another criticism in the first ISO 14001 version dealt
with weaker requirements concerning compliance.
This has been strengthened and clarified in the new
version.In the same token,the active involvement of
employees is included in the new version of ISO
14001 as well.
Therefore,most of our results can be transferred to
companies participating in ISO 14001,although this
study focused on facilities that are EMAS-validated.
Furthermore,more than 55% of the analyzed EMAS-
validated facilities have also implemented ISO 14001.
They have only one EMS that fulfills the requirements
of both standards.Thus,when asked for the influence
of their EMS on technical environmental innovations,
they were not able to differentiate their answers
between EMAS and ISO 14001.As mentioned
above,in practice,the differences between ISO
14001 and EMAS are rather small and both offer
enough freedom for firm-specific design and adapta-
tion.Within the econometric analysis,no significant
impact of the additional ISO 14001 validation could
be observed.ISO 14001 validation was used as an
explanatory variable (for maturity of EMS) in our
Generally,weak environmental policy instruments
such as standards for the voluntary participation in
EMS can supplement but not substitute other,more
strict environmental policy instruments such as per-
formance standards,taxes,or tradable permits.While
such standards are designed to exploit win–win situa-
tions by picking of low-hanging fruits as far such
potentials exist,strict environmental policy instru-
ments are designed to increase these potentials by
decreasing competitive disadvantages of environmen-
tally friendly behavior due to the double externality
problem as described in Section 2 of this paper.
The applied methodology can be improved upon in
a number of ways.As this study has focused on
EMAS-validated facilities,for a future study samples
of the universe of facilities would be desirable,which
would allow for comparisons between EMAS-vali-
dated facilities and other facilities.Comparative stu-
dies between countries as well as specialized studies
on the service sector (this study was limited to the
manufacturing sector) would also be useful.There is
also a need for further research applying a comparable
methodology to determinants of product-related envir-
onmental protection (e.g.,Integrated Product Policy—
IPP) whereas this study rather focused on location-
related environmental protection.As an analysis of
determinants of technical environmental innovations
on the basis of binary discrete choice models has only
limited explanatory value (since in the basic alterna-
tive,facilities could be grouped which are rather
environmentally innovative) additional and further-
reaching econometric analyses on the basis of multi-
nomial discrete choice models should be established.
This study has been supported with funds from the
state of Baden-Wu¨ rttemberg’s bprogram on the envir-
onment as a foundation of life and its protectionQ
(BWPLUS).We would like to thank Jan Nill,the
interviewed facilities,the members of the scientific
advisory board to the study as well as our team of
interviewers for their valuable support.Our special
thanks are dedicated to Dominik Zahrnt,Jan-Hendrik
Hirsch,Ilja Karabanow,Sabine Kitz,Stefanie Kohl-
meier,Svenja Engler and Sarah Gramm for their
untiring commitment during data analysis.We are
grateful to two anonymous referees for their helpful
comments on this article.
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