Category Archives: corporate citizenship

How can we combat climate change?

This is an excerpt from one of my latest contributions.

Suggested citation: Camilleri, M.A. (2022). The rationale for ISO 14001 certification: A systematic review and a cost-benefit analysis, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management,


During the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21), one hundred ninety-six (196) countries pledged their commitment to implement environmental performance measures to reduce the effects of climate change. This conference has led to the development of the ‘Paris Agreement’ where signatories became legally bound to limit global warming to below 2°C, and possibly 1.5°C (Palea & Drogo, 2020; Secinaro, Brescia, Calandra & Saiti, 2020). They recognized the importance of averting and minimizing the environmental impact that is caused by climate change, by scaling up their efforts and support initiatives to reduce emissions, by building resilience among parties, and by promoting cooperation (Birindelli & Chiappini, 2021; Gatto, 2020).

In the aftermath of COP 21, many countries submitted their plans for climate action (these plans are also known as nationally determined contributions – NDCs), where they communicated about their tangible actions that were aimed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of rising temperatures (Fatica & Panzica, 2021; Gerged, Matthews & Elheddad, 2021).  Consequentially, intergovernmental organizations including the European Union (EU), among others, are increasingly establishing ambitious carbon neutrality goals and zero-carbon solutions to tackle climate change issues (Benz, Paulus, Scherer, Syryca & Trück, 2021).

Many countries are incentivizing businesses across different economic sectors, to reduce their emissions. For example, the EU member states are expected to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 40% before 2030, and by 60% prior to 2050 (EU, 2019). These targets would require the commitment of stakeholders from various sectors including those operating within the energy and transportation industries, among others.

The latest climate change conference (COP26) suggested that progress has been made on the signatories’ mitigation measures that were aimed to reduce emissions, on their adaptation efforts to deal with climate change impacts, on the mobilization of finance, and on the increased collaboration among countries to reach 2030 emissions targets. However, more concerted efforts are required to deliver on these four pledges (UNFCC, 2021).

This contribution raises awareness on the use of environmental management standards that are intended to support organizations of different types and sizes, including private entities, not-for-profits as well as governmental agencies, to improve their environmental performance credentials. A thorough review of the relevant literature suggests that, over the years many practitioners have utilized the International Standards Organization’s ISO 14001 environment management systems standard to assist them in their environmental management issues (Baek, 2018; Delmas & Toffel, 2008; Erauskin‐Tolosa, Zubeltzu‐Jaka, Heras‐Saizarbitoria & Boiral, 2020; Melnyk, Sroufe & Calantone, 2003).

Many academic commentators noted that several practitioners operating in different industry sectors, in various contexts, are implementing ISO 14001 requirements to obtain this standard’s certification (Boiral, Guillaumie, Heras‐Saizarbitoria & Tayo Tene, 2018; Para‐González & Mascaraque‐Ramírez, 2019; Riaz, & Saeed, 2020). Whilst several researchers contended about the benefits of abiding by voluntary principles and guidelines (Camilleri, 2018), others discussed about the main obstacles to obtaining impartial audits, assurances and certifications from independent standard setters (Hillary, 2004; Ma, Liu, Appolloni & Liu, 2021; Robèrt, Schmidt-Bleek, Aloisi De Larderel … & Wackernagel, 2002; Teng & Wu, 2018).

Hence, this research examines identifies the rationale for ISO 14001 certification (Carvalho, Santos & Gonçalves, 2020; Eltayeb, Zailani & Ramayah, 2011; Lee, Noh, Choi & Rha, 2017; Potoski & Prakash, 2005) that is supposedly intended to improve the organizations’ environmental performance and to enhance their credentials. Specifically, this contribution’s objectives are threefold. Firstly, it provides a generic background on voluntary instruments, policies and guidelines that are intended to promote corporate environmentally responsible behaviors. Secondly, it presents the results from a systematic review of academic articles that were focused on ISO 14001 – environment management systems. Thirdly, it synthesizes the findings from high impact papers and discusses about the benefits and costs of using this standard. In conclusion, it elaborates on the implications of this research, it identifies its limitations and points out future research avenues.

In sum, this contribution differentiates itself from previous articles, particularly those that sought to investigate the introduction and implementation of environment management systems in specific entities. This research involves a two-stage systematic analysis. It appraises a number of empirical investigations, theoretical articles, reviews, case studies, discursive/opinion papers, from 1995-2021. Afterwards, it scrutinizes their content to shed more light on the pros and cons of using ISO 14001 as a vehicle to improve corporate environmental performance.

This paper can be downloaded, in its entirety, through ResearchGate:

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Filed under Business, Circular Economy, corporate citizenship, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility, CSR, environment, Sustainability, sustainable development

What is Corporate Citizenship?

The corporate citizenship term was typically used to describe the corporations that can contribute to the ethical, philanthropic and societal goals. Therefore, this notion is rooted in political science as it directs corporations to respond to non-market pressures.

Throughout the years, the corporate citizenship agenda has been wrought from distinctive corporate social responsibility (CSR) theories and approaches. Its conceptual foundations can be found in the CSR literature (e.g., Carroll, 1979), corporate social responsiveness (e.g., Clarkson, 1995), corporate social performance (e.g., Albinger & Freeman, 2000), the theory of the firm” (McWilliams & Siegel, 2001), stakeholder engagement (Strand & Freeman, 2013); and other enlightened ‘self-interest’ theories; as corporate citizenship can be a source of opportunity, innovation and competitive advantage (Camilleri, 2017a, 2017b; Porter & Kramer, 2006). For this reason, this concept continues to receive specific attention, particularly by those responsible businesses that are differentiating themselves through responsible and sustainable behaviours.


Literature Review

The multinational corporations (MNCs) have been (and still are) under pressure to exhibit “good corporate citizenship” in every country or market from where they run their business. MNCs are continuously monitored by their stakeholders, including regulatory authorities, creditors, investors, customers and the community at large. They are also being scrutinised by academic researchers. Several empirical studies have explored the individuals’ attitudes and perceptions toward corporate citizenship. Very often, their measurement involved quantitative analyses that investigated the corporations’ responsible behaviours (Camilleri, 2017a; 2017b). Other research has focused on the managerial perceptions about corporate citizenship (e.g., Basu & Palazzo, 2008). A number of similar studies have gauged corporate citizenship by adopting Fortune’s reputation index (Flanagan, O’Shaughnessy, & Palmer, 2011; Melo & Garrido‐Morgado, 2012), the KLD index (Dupire & M’Zali, 2018; Fombrun, 1998; Griffin & Mahon, 1997) or Van Riel and Fombrun’s (2007) Reptrak. Such measures expected the surveyed executives to assess the extent to which their company behaves responsibly toward the environment and the community (Fryxell and Wang, 1994).

Despite the wide usage of such measures in past research, the appropriateness of these indices still remains doubtful. For instance, Fortune’s reputation index failed to account for the multidimensionality of the corporate citizenship construct; as it is suspected to be more significant of management quality than of corporate citizenship (Waddock & Graves, 1997). Fortune’s past index suffered from the fact that its items were not based on theoretical arguments as they did not appropriately represent the economic, legal, ethical, and discretionary dimensions of the corporate citizenship construct.

Pinkston and Carroll (1994) identified four dimensions of corporate citizenship, including; orientations, stakeholders, issues and decision-making autonomy. They argued that by observing orientations, one may better understand the inclinations or the posturing behaviours of organisations with respect to corporate citizenship. Pinkston and Carroll (1994) sought to identify the stakeholder groups that are benefiting from the businesses’ corporate citizenship practices. They argued that the businesses’ decision-making autonomy determined at what organisational level they engaged in corporate citizenship. In a similar vein, Griffin and Mahon (1997) combined four estimates of corporate citizenship: Fortune’s reputation index, the KLD index, the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), and the rankings that are provided in the Directory of Corporate Philanthropy.

Singh, De los Salmones Sanchez and Rodriguez del Bosque (2007) adopted a multidimensional perspective on three domains, including; commercial responsibility, ethical responsibility and social responsibility. Firstly, they proposed that the commercial responsibility construct relates to the businesses’ responsibility to develop high quality products and truthful marketing communications of their products’ attributes and features among customers. Secondly, they maintained that ethical responsibility is concerned with the businesses fulfilling their obligations toward their shareholders, suppliers, distributors and other agents with whom they make their dealings. Singh et al. (2007) argued that ethical responsibility involves the respect for the human rights and norms that are defined in the law when carrying out business activities. They hinted that respecting ethical principles in business relationships has more priority than achieving superior economic performance. Their other domain, social responsibility is concerned about with corporate citizenship initiatives that are characterised by the businesses’ laudable behaviors (Camilleri, 2017c). The authors suggest that the big businesses could allocate part of their budget to the natural environment, philanthropy, or toward social works that supported the most vulnerable groups in society. This perspective supports the development of financing social and/or cultural activities and is also concerned with improving societal well-being (Singh et al., 2007).


There are several actors within a society, including the government and policy makers, businesses, marketplace stakeholders and civil society organisations among others (Camilleri, 2015). It is within this context that a relationship framework is required to foster corporate citizenship practices in order to enhance the businesses’ legitimacy amongst stakeholders (Camilleri, 2017; Camilleri, 2018). The corporate citizenship practices including socially responsible and environmentally sustainable practices may be triggered by the institutional and/or stakeholder pressures.



Albinger, H.S. & Freeman, S.J. (2000). Corporate social performance and attractiveness as an employer to different job seeking populations. Journal of Business Ethics, 28(3), 243-253.

Basu, K. & Palazzo, G. (2008). Corporate social responsibility: A process model of sensemaking, Academy of Management Review, 33(1), 122-136.

Camilleri, M. A. (2015). Valuing stakeholder engagement and sustainability reporting. Corporate Reputation Review18(3), 210-222.

Camilleri, M. A. (2017a). Corporate citizenship and social responsibility policies in the United States of America. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 8(1), 77-93.

Camilleri, M. A. (2017b). Corporate Social Responsibility Policy in the United States of America. In Corporate Social Responsibility in Times of Crisis (pp. 129-143). Springer, Cham.

Camilleri, M. A. (2017c). Corporate sustainability and responsibility: creating value for business, society and the environment. Asian Journal of Sustainability and Social Responsibility2(1), 59-74.

Camilleri, M. A. (2018). Theoretical insights on integrated reporting: The inclusion of non-financial capitals in corporate disclosures. Corporate Communications: An International Journal. 23(4) 567-581.

Carroll, A.B. (1979). A three-dimensional conceptual model of corporate performance. Academy of Management Review, 4(4), 497-505.

Dupire, M., & M’Zali, B. (2018). CSR strategies in response to competitive pressures. Journal of Business Ethics148(3), 603-623.

Flanagan, D. J., O’shaughnessy, K. C., & Palmer, T. B. (2011). Re-assessing the relationship between the Fortune reputation data and financial performance: overwhelming influence or just a part of the puzzle?. Corporate Reputation Review14(1), 3-14.

Fombrun, C.J. (1998). Indices of corporate reputation: An analysis of media rankings and social monitors’ ratings. Corporate Reputation Review, 1(4), 327-340.

Griffin J.J. & Mahon, J.F. (1997). The corporate social performance and corporate financial performance debate twenty-five years of incomparable research. Business & Society, 36(1), 5-31.

McWilliams, A. & Siegel, D. (2001). Corporate social responsibility: A theory of the firm perspective, Academy of Management Review, 26(1), 117-127.

Melo, T., & Garrido‐Morgado, A. (2012). Corporate reputation: A combination of social responsibility and industry. Corporate social responsibility and environmental management19(1), 11-31.

Pinkston, T.S. & Carroll, A.B. (1994). Corporate citizenship perspectives and foreign direct investment in the US. Journal of Business Ethics, 13(3), 157-169.

Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. (2006). The link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility. Harvard business review84(12), 78-92.

Strand, R. & Freeman, R.E. (2013). Scandinavian cooperative advantage: The theory and practice of stakeholder engagement in Scandinavia, Journal of Business Ethics, 127(1), 65-85.

Singh, J. & Del Bosque, I.R. (2008). Understanding corporate social responsibility and product perceptions in consumer markets: A cross-cultural evaluation. Journal of Business Ethics, 80(3), 597-611.

Van Riel, C.B. & Fombrun, C.J. (2007). Essentials of corporate communication: Implementing practices for effective reputation management, Routledge, Oxford, UK and New York, USA.

Waddock, S.A. & Graves, S.B. (1997). The corporate social performance-financial performance link, Strategic Management Journal, 18(4), 303-319.

This is an excerpt from one of my contributions that will appear in Springer’s Encyclopedia of Sustainable Management.

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