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Adoption of environmental management tools: the dynamic capabilities contributions

Moez Essid (School of Economic and Commercial Sciences, University of Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia)
Nicolas Berland (Paris Dauphine University, PSL Research University, CNRS, Paris, France)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 30 July 2018

Issue publication date: 21 August 2018




This paper aims to analyze the organizational capabilities involved in the adoption of environmental management tools in eight large French firms. The analysis also examines the antecedents that contributed to the emergence of those capabilities and the consequences of their involvement in terms of environmental management.


To analyze the organizational capabilities deployed when environmental management tools are adopted, this paper takes an exploratory approach based on a qualitative study of eight large French firms.


The findings show how organizational capabilities, dynamic and ordinary, are operationalized in the adoption of environmental management tools. This operationalization is made possible by internal and external antecedents and simple and complex routines. The findings also identify two possible configurations of organizational capabilities, each one leading to a specific form of environmental management. The first configuration leads to stand-alone environmental management systems, while the second succeeds in engendering integrated management systems. This study shows that this difference is explained by heterogeneous endowments in terms of antecedents across firms.

Practical implications

The study provides useful information for managers about the conditions that favor and facilitate adoption of environmental management tools and the ways these conditions operate.

Social implications

The study illustrates the impact of society on large firms’ adoption of certain environmental management practices. It shows that external visibility – which has created strong societal pressure – is one of the external antecedents that led eight large French firms to develop specific organizational capabilities.


In analyzing the antecedents, routines and capabilities involved in the adoption of environmental management tools, the study adds some original, innovative contributions to current knowledge on the conditions for adoption of such tools.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments and suggestions from the two anonymous reviewers and from the guest co-editors Delphine Gibassier, Jonathan Maurice and Charles Cho.

This research received funding from the Chair in Ethics and Corporate Governance at Paris Dauphine University.


Essid, M. and Berland, N. (2018), "Adoption of environmental management tools: the dynamic capabilities contributions", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 229-252.



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