The purpose of this paper is to build upon the conceptual model developed by Feldman et al. (1997) that demonstrated a link between improved environmental performance and increased market value for publicly traded corporations. ISO 14000 standards, not yet established at the time of their study, provide the framework for a strategic approach to environmental management with an emphasis on continuous quality improvement. Consequently, ISO 14000 certification is used as the basis for creating an investment portfolio of publicly traded companies. While previous research has examined short-term stock market reactions to ISO 14000 certification, this study evaluates the longer term impact on shareholder value by comparing the ISO portfolio’s performance against other funds. It adds to the existing literature on the “pay to be green” question.
The successful attainment of ISO 14000 certification is used as the basis for developing a portfolio that is followed over time in order to examine its value to shareholders. The portfolio consists of companies certified between 1996 and 2006, each added to the portfolio the month after its announced ISO 14000 certification date. The study covers the period from October 1996 through April 2011. Average monthly returns and standard deviations for a buy-and-hold strategy over various rolling periods (three, five, seven and ten year) are used to compare the ISO 14000 portfolio against the S&P 500 Index. In addition, the growth of an initial investment of $100,000 is tracked to compare the ISO 14000 portfolio against the S&P 500 Index and three other funds that are socially responsible and/or green (Domini Social Equity Fund (DSEFX), Winslow Green Growth Investment, and iShares KLD 400 Social Index).
The ISO 14000 portfolio outperformed the S&P 500 Index as well as selected socially responsible and/or green funds in the growth of an initial investment over time. It also consistently provided higher average monthly returns (along with higher standard deviations) than the S&P 500 Index when using a buy-and-hold investment strategy over all rolling periods considered. Moreover, monthly returns for the ISO 14000 portfolio were found to be significantly higher, at the 0.05 level, than for those of the S&P 500 Index and the DSEFX.
Companies that attained ISO 14000 certification after 2006 were not included in the portfolio due to the inability to obtain a complete listing after that time. Furthermore, causality cannot be established by analyzing fund performance. Nonetheless, ISO 14000 certification as the basis for creating an investment portfolio appears to be a strategy that pays off in the long term.
This paper fills a gap in the literature by examining longer term market reactions to ISO 14000 certification. The methodology employed has not been used in this context, although it has been used to examine the impact of ISO 9000 certification on stock prices. The findings support the argument that improved environmental performance is valued by the market and may provide long-term value for shareholders.
Sebastianelli, R., Tamimi, N. and Iacocca, K. (2015), "Improving the quality of environmental management: impact on shareholder value", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 53-80. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJQRM-03-2013-0056
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