correlation between strategic praxis related to environmental management in Santa Catarina

Title: Environmental Management, Strategic Practices and Praxis: A Study in Santa Catarina
Industrial Companies
Subject: Environmental Sciences
Type of Paper: Dissertation
Words: 7120
This article analysed the correlation between strategic praxis related to
environmental management in Santa Catarina industrial companies and their strategic practices.
This quantitative study is based on the theoretical foundations of environmental management and
strategy as practice. Praxis (environmental management) is understood as a cluster of three
perspectives: product design, main processes and support system. The data were collected by
way of an online questionnaire, with 225 completed and submitted to canonical correlation
multivariate analysis using SPSS software, confirming the hypothesis that there is a correlation
between companies' praxis (environmental management) and strategic practices.
However, the correlation best represents the original variables at the support system level,
seeking to value the correlation. Likewise, not all original variables make up the new canonical
variable, which suggests that there are new implications.
Key words: environmental management; strategic practices; strategic praxis; canonical
correlation; industrial companies.
In recent years, the number of studies that analyze the relationship between companies and the
natural environment has grown. This is because global environmental problems, such as climate
change, have raised the awareness of society in general concerning the impact of business
activities on planet's sustainability (Aragòn-Correa, Hurtado-Torres, Sharma, & Garcia-Morales,
2008; Brown, Vergragt, & Cohen, 2013; Yang, Yang, & Peng,
2011). The challenge of sustainability transcends technological advancement. This also includes
a change in societal values in addition to the restructuring of public and economic institutions. In
this sense, not only the innovations in industrial production are necessary, but also innovations in
a company's consumption patterns (Brown et al., 2013).
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According to Newton and Harte (1997), many researchers are concerned
over the difficulty of making real improvements to the environment, since the social paradigms
and normative structures that guide decision making in this field have remained. There is also a
group of scholars who have found that the natural environment has been used by managers more
for strategic purposes than for ethical or normative reasons (Aragón-Correa, Matias-Reche, &
Senise-Barrio, 2004; Banerjee, 2001; Cordano & Frieze, 2000; Sharma, 2000).
Actually, companies' environmental management can be seen as the result of strategic practices
regarding the natural environment, often based on managers' perceptions
regarding the importance given to the environment and the many external restrictions that are
imposed (Coyle, Thomchick, & Ruamssok, 2015; Reis & Queiroz, 2002). Considered a
managerial function, environmental management is responsible for the implementation of
strategic environmental policies that are implemented by businesses. However, these policies and
practices are not always transformed into praxis, leading back to the old problem of the
separation of thought and action.
Although organizations have voiced their concern over the construction and
maintenance of cleaner and more ecologically sustainable systems (strategic practices), concerns
remain over the effectiveness of the environmental management systems put in place
by companies (strategic praxis). After all, does praxis related to
environmental management systems in companies correspond to their strategic practices?
To ponder this question, this study is based on the perspective of strategy as practice, considering
strategy as a social practice (Whittington, 1996). Here, practices are related to "cognitive,
behavioral, procedural, discursive, motivational and physical resources that are combined,
coordinated and adapted to construct practice" (Seidl & Vaara, 2010, p. 11).
Nevertheless, the discourse of strategy in this case does not refer only to the idiosyncratic
product of a certain corporate culture, but as part of a considerable social change with effects that
reach far beyond the organization. Strategy in this case is viewed as a social phenomenon that
alters managers' self-understanding in general.
This study is justified by the gaps in studies on environmental management in business
through the perspective of strategy as practice and the lack of studies on the theme
in companies in emerging countries. In general, the dominant theory is generated in
the context of developed countries, suggesting that studies should be conducted to confirm 
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whether the mainstream is applicable tithe context of emerging countries, given the considerable
differences between countries (Kang, 2011).
Regarding this issue in particular, numerous studies have documented the weak institutional
pressure of many developing countries in terms of environmental regulations and norms. They
have reported the difficulties that companies in some countries face to access technology
and the skills necessary for environmental proactively. This has resulted in certain locations
coming to be seen as pollution paradises (Christmann & Taylor, 2001). In Brazil's
case, the adoption of sustainable practices is still low despite the existence of laws, because there
is inadequate supervision to ensure that organizations are respecting the environment (Bonilla,
Almeida, Giannetti, & Huisingh, 2010).
On the other hand, as suggested by Peng, Wang and Jiang (2008), institutional forces play a
central role in the formation of business strategies in emerging countries due to the strong
legacy of government or political involvement in business affairs (Kang, 2011).
Considering that strategic practices do not always correspond to praxis, this study aims to
empirically analyze the correlation between strategic practices and praxis in relation to Santa
Catarina businesses' environmental management systems. Therefore, the proposed hypothesis is
that there is correlation between strategic practices and praxis in relation
to the environmental management systems of Santa Catarina industrial companies.
Environment, Companies and Environmental Management
In recent years, society has become increasingly aware of the importance of
protecting the environment and the planet's natural ecology (Bonilla et al., 2010; Kanji, 2008;
Pedroso, Cella-de-Oliveira, Dutra, & Morozini, 2012; Surjono, 2011). This has resulted in
tougher environmental standards for the business community. A number of mechanisms such
as the ISO 14000 environmental management certification have institutionalised international
standards and put pressure on industry to improve environmental practices (Yang et al., 2011).
Recognition of these environmental demands has led to changes in the lifecycle and in
production costs (to eliminate the residuals and adopt adequate control processes). Alfred and
Adam (2009) realised that environmental management is positively associated with companies'
operating performance, as it increases the relative productivity of inputs, reduces production
costs and maximizes the use of organizational resources. Growing regulatory pressure and
client's environmental requirements have also forced industry to reduce or even 
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eliminate the adverse environmental impacts of products and processes. Therefore,
environmental management, which includes all efforts to minimize the environmental
impacts of a company's processes and products throughout their lifecycle (Klassen &
Mclaughlin, 1996), has become an extremely important function in almost every
type of industry. "There is also a growing conviction that environmental sustainability challenges
require actions that directly impact business strategies and supply chain practices" (Coyle et al.,
2015, p. 365). In this sense, sustainable practices can generate new opportunities and,
consequently, transform organizations (Perez-Valls, Cespedes-Lorente, & Moreno-Garcia,
Pollution is the main challenge for environmental management (Yang et al., 2011) and can be
considered a form of residual (Porter & Van Der Linde, 1995), as it consumes resources and
increases costs with no compensation at all (Handfield, Walton, Sroufe, & Melnyk, 2002). As a
result, organizations have made efforts to develop products and services that reduce pollution,
require less packaging and less energy consumption (Humphreys, Wong, & Chan, 2003). With
this need in mind, the environmental issue has become part of strategic planning in
many companies (Donnelly, Beckett-Furnell, Traeger, Okrasinski, & Holman, 2006; Maas,
Schulster, & Hartmann, 2014), which seek alternatives to minimize the adverse environmental
impacts of their activities during their products lifecycles (Alfred & Adam, 2009; Sroufe,
Montabon, Narasimhan, & Wang, 2002).
As the production of green products is manufacturers' responsibility, companies have been
concerned with reducing the use of energy and resources, eliminating toxicity from their raw
materials and looking at ways of recycling and reusing products at the end of their lifecycles
(Gerner, Kobeissi, David, Binder, & Descotes-Genon, 2005).
A number of countries require manufacturers to accept the return of their products after they
have been used by consumers. This encourages industry to design products that can easily be
recycled or reused. In this way, a green global strategy combines the functions of design,
purchase, production, management of suppliers, logistics (including reverse logistics) and
information management (Shih, 2003). Therefore, to improve
environmental management, companies need to pay attention to the whole production process,
including design, raw materials, manufacture, and use and recycling.
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Performance is measured in terms of positive or negative effects on the natural environment.
Manufacturer's operations and products (James, 1994) cause these effects. Nevertheless, despite
recognizing the growing importance of environmental management in manufacturing processes
throughout the lifecycle of a product, there is a problem concerning how to make decisions about
main activities to achieve adequate environmental management in companies.
Selecting the right tool to implement environmental management is very important in
terms of costs and compliance with stakeholders' regulatory requirements (Montabon, Sroufe, &
Narasimhan, 2007). Humphreys, Wong and Chan (2003) suggested that attention should be paid
to five aspects of environmental management: (a) management decisions, (b) green image, (c)
environmental design, (d) environmental management system, and (e) environmental
According to Yang, Yang and Peng (2011), the many aspects of environmental management can
be implemented through performance criteria and their respective related operations. According
to these authors, based on the provisions of international environmental management system ISO
14031, Kolk and Mauser (2002) used three elements to measure environmental management: (a)
environmental management indicators, (b) environmental condition indicators; and (c)
environmental performance indicators. The latter was subdivided into several operational
indicators, such as acquisition, production process, and use and disposal of products. Through
these evaluation criteria, the critical practices required for environmental management can be
selected and adopted.
Porter's value chain was used in the development of the model by Yang et al. (2011), who
proposed the systematic environmental management adopted in this work, consisting of three
major perspectives: (a) conception of the product, (b) the main processes, and (c) the support
functions. The relative praxis of environmental management has to do with the processes and
support functions, borrowed from Porter's model (1985) and based on Porter and Van der Linde
(1995) hypothesis that being green is being competitive. In addition to these two
perspectives, the model proposed by the authors also includes product design, since the potential
for recycling and reduced residuals is essentially determined during the conception phase.
Product conception includes the design of green products, their components and processes.
During the design development stage, the designers need to consider the green provisions and
requirements and ensure that the materials, components and manufacturing process comply with 
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them. Likewise, packaging has to be developed that can be recycled and reused, and also reduced
and returned as much as possible. The applications of reverse logistics systems should also be
enabled. The main processes include quality control of raw materials, monitoring and isolation,
reduced use of resources and energy, including reduced emission, quality control and the
management of green materials and harmful substances during storage. The support systems
include environmental management mechanisms, including placing someone in charge of this
area of the company and the maintenance and calibration of machinery, education and
training of employees concerning environmental issues, compliance with legislation and legal
environmental requirements and the green image.
Hart (1995), using a Natural-Resource-Based View, argues that there are three strategic courses
that can be developed by companies: pollution prevention, product stewardship and sustainable
development. Each of these has different driving forces and is based on diverse key resources.
Pollution prevention seeks to prevent the production of residuals and emissions rather than clean
them up after production. This results in lower costs. For example, removing pollutants
before the production process can increase efficiency through (a) fewer necessary inputs, (b)
simplified processes, and (c) lower costs and fulfilled responsibility. Product stewardship
broadens the scope of pollution prevention to include the entire value chain
or the lifespan of a company's products. With the involvement of interested parties, the voice of
the environment can be effectively integrated with the product development project (Hart &
Dowell, 2011). Finally, sustainable development is different from pollution prevention and
product stewardship in two notable ways. First of all, a sustainable development strategy seeks
not only to curtail environmental damage but also to produce a way of truly avoiding such
damage indefinitely in the future. Secondly, sustainable development, as its name suggests, is not
restricted to just environmental concerns, but also to social and economic issues. As economic
activity in developed countries is closely linked to issues of poverty and degradation, a strategy
with sustainable development has to recognize this link and act to reduce the environmental
impact and increase economic benefits for less developed markets affected by the company's
activities (Hart & Dowell, 2011).
As seen in the considerations voiced so far, environmental management can be considered a
set of directives for management activities with a view to obtaining positive results in relation
to the environment, reducing or eliminating the environmental damage caused by 
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a company (Barbieri, 2006). Uehara, Otero, Martins, Philippi and Mantovani (2010)
highlight the plural role of environmental management as an instrument for
regulating the relationship between society and nature, influencing business practices and
reflecting on a company's mission and values.
In general, considerations on the environmental aspects of business strategy have formed a new
business paradigm, unveiling benefits that had not been perceived by the business world, such as
improving organizations' images, opening up new markets, improving production processes,
realizing savings on raw materials, increasing income and reducing waste. Environmental
aspects also benefit products, both in terms of improved quality and lower packaging costs
(Hrdlicka, 2009).
The next topic explores strategic practices and praxis to understand the formal and informal
actions of doing strategy concerning environmental management and analyzes the praxis
from the Yang et al. (2011) model.
Strategic Practices and Praxis
The idea of practice is linked to shared behavior routines, such as traditions, norms,
ways of thinking and attitudes in a broader sense (Whittington, 2006). When practices
have strategic consequences for organizations, such as a competitive advantage, financial results
and a better market, they are considered strategic (Johnson, Melin, & Whittington, 2003), despite
their formal planning and articulation (Jarzabkowski, Balogun, & Seidl, 2007).
Jarzabkowski, Balogun and Seidl (2007) cite practices according to Reckwitz, who views them
as "routinised types of behavior which consist of several elements, interconnected to one
another: forms of bodily activities, forms of mental activities, 'things' and their use, a background
knowledge in the form of understanding, know-how, states of emotion and motivational
knowledge" (p. 6). In this sense, practices can also be referred to as cognitive, behavioral,
procedural, discursive, motivational and physical. When these are combined, coordinated and
adapted, they end up creating a form of praxis (Walter & Augusto, 2012).
These strategic practices can be classified as rational, discursive and episodic. Rational practices
are used to organize and coordinate strategy, including planning, budgeting, forecasting, control
systems, performance indicators and goals. They are important because they serve as
mechanisms that act as a go-between for the action of actors who are striving to achieve
their strategic goals. Discursive practices include a range of factors that 
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incorporate the discourse of strategy and the tools and techniques that are translated into
everyday language concerning discourse (Jarzabkowski, 2005). Episodic practices provide
interaction between practitioners in the formation of strategy and include meetings, seminars and
external contacts.
One of the factors for understanding strategic practices is the analysis of managerial policies that
are implemented and supported by managers. Strategic practices are constituted
through the knowledge of the actors involved in an organization's strategic process and are based
on explicit knowledge used for analysis, planning and action to achieve a certain goal (Chia &
Rasche, 2010). In other words, the focus here is on policies and managerial actions and how
coherent they are, and what strategists and other managers effectively do with their rational
Policies, as part of strategic action, are guides for strategic practices implemented over time and
spread by personal and organizational values. In this sense, the empirical considerations analysed
in this study include competitors, stakeholders, initiatives connected with government policy
on the environment and environmental certificati 

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