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Environmental management rivalry and firm performance

Anupam Kumar (Howard University School of Business, Howard University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
David E. Cantor (College of Business, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA)
Curtis M. Grimm (Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)
Christian Hofer (Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to build and test theory regarding how rivalry in environmental management (EM) affects a focal firm’s environmental image and financial performance.


The theory is tested with an original panel data set of 2,776 focal-rival dyad pairs. Measures of environmental signals are developed from content analysis of corporate sustainability reports. Environmental performance data are drawn from the Newsweek US 500 Green Rankings database. Financial performance data are drawn from COMPUSTAT.


The main findings are that focal firm signals have a positive and significant impact on both focal firm environmental image and financial performance. Rival firm signals have a negative effect on focal firm environmental image. Surprisingly, rival firm signals have a positive impact on focal firm financial performance.

Practical implications

This paper can serve as a testament to the value of monitoring rival firm strategies and signaling to counter the impact of rival signals in the environmental domain. Environmental practices can be a source of competitive advantage for firms, and failure to compete in this space can place the firm at a competitive disadvantage.


This study makes several contributions to the EM literature. Leveraging competitive dynamics and the institutional viewpoints, this study builds theory with regard to how signals of competitive EM activity among a focal firm and its rivals affect environmental image and financial performance.



The authors wish to thank their respective academic institutions for the financial assistance provided for this research project. The authors also thank the reviewers for valuable feedback on an earlier version of this paper.


Kumar, A., Cantor, D.E., Grimm, C.M. and Hofer, C. (2017), "Environmental management rivalry and firm performance", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 227-247.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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