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Investigating the role of environmental management systems standards and management systems software in enhancing organizational learning

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posted on 24.05.2021, 15:33 authored by Randolph Onyema Ibe, Kernaghan Webb
The purpose of this research was: to explore the organizational learning capabilities of the ISO 14001 standard and environmental management systems software (EMS-based software); to investigate whether EMS-based software has the necessary features to assist organizations with the implementation and maintenance of their environmental management system/standard; and to gain an understanding as to the functionality of the standard and software based on the experience of users. In order to achieve the objectives of this study, a questionnaire was used to survey individuals within organizations in Canada and the United States of America that were registered to the ISO 14001:2004 standard and that used EMS-based software. The results of this study suggest that the ISO 14001:2004 standard may have certain capabilities that may have the effect of enhancing organizational learning. The results also highlight some of the strengths as well as challenges users may have regarding the requirements/elements of the standard. The study also provides preliminary insights and observations as to the functionality, performance and learning capabilities of EMS-based software. However, due to the low response rate, and the use of non-probability sampling, generalizations of the results of this study will have to be made with caution. Nevertheless, this study furthers organizational learning-oriented research and understanding concerning standards and software in a preliminary and practical way in certain respects. First, the study provides scholars and organizations with a broader view regarding the application of the standard and software to environmental management - that is, as a means to improve learning - which arguably could enable them to better understand and improve the processes of learning within organizations. This could translate to an improvement in an organization’s competitive advantage and an improvement in environmental performance and thus enhanced environmental protection. Second, the study offers insights regarding possible improvements that could be made to the standard and software, which would be of benefit to the organizations that use the standard and software and to the developers of EMS-based software. Finally, the study contributes to the relatively limited available research on the learning capabilities associated with and functionality of environmental management standards and software.





Doctor of Philosophy


Environmental Applied Science and Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type