Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Social Sciences


Hugh S Gorman


The growth of ISO 14001 certificates worldwide has led to much research on the role of voluntary standards in improving the environmental impacts of industry. Most of this research, however, has focused on industrialized countries, with very little research examining the effects of ISO 14001 and other voluntary initiatives in the developing world. This is especially unfortunate because it is in these very countries that proponents of ISO 14001 claim the largest benefits of the standard will occur, by helping polluting industries improve performance and by assisting environmental regulators in enforcing laws more effectively.

Indian industries have begun adopting ISO 14001 at an accelerating pace, but there is little available information on what this means for the environmental performance of Indian firms. The research described here closes this gap by exploring the reasons for the increasing popularity of ISO 14001 in India, the ways in which firms use the standard and the benefits they obtain from it. Findings suggest that while the processoriented approach of ISO 14001 does offer important benefits, changing market demands towards cheaper certification and away from rigorous EMS implementation have devalued the standard for those interested in using it as an indicator of a firm’s environmental performance.