The Purpose of ISO 14001 Certification: Independent Assurance or Improved Environmental Management System?

Janet Morrill, Sylvie Berthelot


This study provides evidence of the value of third party certification of environmental management systems. We examine the relative importance of improving an environmental management system as a result of certification, versus being able to communicate the quality of that system credibly to outsiders through third party certification. We use survey data where one half of the respondents had indicated that they had an environmental management (EMS) in place before seeking ISO 14001 certification, while the other half of respondents did not. Our analyses comparing the two groups find that the group already having an EMS report similar motivations for ISO 14001 certification and perceive to have received similar levels of benefits as firms having no pre-certification EMS. We conclude that even for organizations that already have an EMS, the ability to communicate credibly the quality of that system is a compelling reason to obtain ISO certification.


ISO 14000, assurance services, environmental information, environmental management systems.

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