Environmental Management Policy in Mainland China and its Conform to ISO 14000 Documentation


The discussed article’s authors make use of a non-experimental study design in their work. The specific type of research used in the survey research, which made use of both independent and dependent variables manipulated to obtain the survey results and make conclusions. The researchers combined the method of the survey with the use of a questionnaire. The latter results allowed the researchers to select the sample of companies’ environmental statements for further analysis of their conformance to ISO 14000 standards. The authors argue that industrial pollution of the environment is one of the main problems in modern China. The country’s authorities realize the problem and enforce international environmental protection standards, like ISO 14000 and ISO 14001. However, the authors find that Chinese companies fail to conform to the ISO main requirement of continual policy improvement.

Discussion of Article

To support this point, the authors present survey findings according to which, only 20% of the studied companies conform to ISO standards generally, while hardly any company can provide a specific account of the continual development initiatives it takes. Furthermore, over 15% of the Chinese companies do not make their environmental policy statements public, which makes their research difficult and allows assuming that these companies do not conform to ISO requirements either. Based on this, the main objective of the article is to find out the reasons for such a situation in China’s industry.

Although there is no section explicitly titled Literature Review, the article provides considerable insight into the issue of ISO standards’ conformance and the context in which this issue develops. In particular, the literature review allows the authors to argue that the Chinese economy has experienced huge growth over the recent years. However, with the development of industry, environmental concerns have become more and more significant. Previous scholars, as the authors argue, notice that the Chinese government understands the concern and enforces ISO standards, but the issue turns out to be more complex than it seems. Some scholars, as reviewed by the authors, notice that Chinese companies adopt ISO to impress their Western partners rather than to improve environmental protection standards their exercise. So, the literature review reveals the fact that ISO standards are adopted on paper but hardly ever kept to and exercised by Chinese companies. The reasons for this are argued to be the lack of management commitment and domination of financial goals over environmental ones.

Evaluation of Research Methods

The authors selected the sample for their survey among the Chinese industrial companies, the environmental policy statements of which were available, and that agreed to participate in the survey by filling the distributed questionnaires. Accordingly, the sample includes 106 companies that agreed to provide their statements. 19 other companies refused this, although ISO requirements presuppose the public availability of data regarding any company’s conformance to ISO. The research used four independent (registrar nationality, top management commitment, prior experience with an informal EMS, and form of ownership) and two dependent (ISO14001 andISO14004 conformance scores) variables.

The process of data collection included two major stages. First, the researchers requested environmental protection statements from 125 Chinese companies. Second, they distributed survey questionnaires to those companies. The study of the 106 statements provided to the researchers revealed that the state of ISO conformance is problematic in China.

The measurement of the data obtained during the research was carried out by linear regression analysis. The latter’s results were then analyzed against the above-mentioned dependent variables of the study. One of the main outcomes of this analysis was the argument that the Chinese companies “fall somewhat short” in conforming to the ISO 14001 and ISO 14004 standards. To support this argument, the authors present statistical data and their analysis.

In particular, the authors argue that although the majority of certified companies seemingly conformed to main ISO requirements, only 12.3% of them had explicit strategies of achieving the goals set by those requirements. The bulk of the statements studied confirmed up to 4 of the seven ISO standards, while the full conformity was observed in 5 statements only (less than 2% of the total). One of the major roles in this conformity shortage is attributed by scholars to the lack of managerial commitment, as the latter decreases when the requirements become stricter.


The article’s authors conclude by stating that ISO conformity is a problematic point for Chinese companies due to such reasons as insufficient managerial commitment, national peculiarities of company registration, and the specialties of the Chinese business environment. Accordingly, if I were assigned the task of improving the registration/certification program in China, I would use these findings and start from the root of the problem, i. e. the perception of ISO standards and their importance for environmental protection. In particular, I would implement special classes in which the significance of environmental protection would be explained and illustrated. Hopefully, such an initiative would change the attitudes of Chinese companies towards the issue and start the process of improvement.


Chung, S., Fryxell, G., & Carlos, W. (2005). Corporate environmental management policy statements in Mainland China: to what extent do they conform to ISO 14000 documentation? Environmental Management, 35(4), 468-482.

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