Sustainability certification schemes: evaluating their effectiveness and adaptability

Published by: Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose -

New sustainability certification schemes (SCS) with different scope, governance structure and operating practice are fast emerging. This rapid growth and divergence in metrics has resulted in questions about the effectiveness of such schemes. Although this practice has been growing fast, to date, there are no reviews comprehensively synthesising the literature regarding SCS’ main flaws, challenges and improvement opportunities. This paper aims to identify what are the key components affecting effectiveness of SCS, highlighting their benefits, flaws and improvement opportunities.

Design/methodology/approach -

An integrated literature review was conducted to identify and assess recent studies related to the benefits, flaws, effectiveness and improvement opportunities of SCS worldwide.

Findings -

Key components affecting the effectiveness of SCS were identified (sustainability awareness; market access; management systems and productivity; social, environmental and economic impacts; monitoring outcomes; competition, overlapping and interoperability; stakeholder participation; and accountability and transparency). The authors argue that SCS to succeed have to be effective; provide accountability about their goals and achievements; and manage stakeholders’ expectations. Civil Society’s awareness of the scientific underpinnings of sustainability issues also contributes to the existence and improvement of such schemes.

Research limitations/implications -

The limitations of this study are associated with the secondary material that was publicly available for our literature review.

Originality/value -

This paper fulfils an identified need to explore the key components affecting effectiveness of SCS, their benefits, flaws and improvement opportunities. Such a synthesis also identifies the key areas where interoperability between SCS should be pursued by corporations and governments.

DOI Link

10.1108/CG-03-2016-0066

CITATION

Renzo Mori Junior , Daniel M. Franks , Saleem H. Ali , (2016) "Sustainability certification schemes: evaluating their effectiveness and adaptability", Corporate Governance, Vol. 16 Iss: 3, pp.579 - 592