The link below is to an excellent study conducted Robert P. Sroufe, Steven A. Melnyk, and Gyula Vastag from Michigan State University in 1998 titled:
"Environmental Management Systems as a Source of Competitive Advantage"
The published abstract for the study is:
The resource-based view of the firm is an emerging framework that includes bundles of resources, barriers, and isolating mechanisms that help a firm's competitive position to be stable and defensible. This existing theory can provide insight into environmental management policy and specifically Environmental Management Systems (EMS) as a source of competitive advantage.
To date, little attention has been devoted to addressing the implications EMS as a contributing factor to firm competitive advantage. Contrary to an often-expressed view, environmental management systems may do more than just add to the costs operations. Environmental Management Systems are a corporate paradox. They can be major contributing factors to the isolating mechanisms that firms use for protection against new entrants and to enhance profits. However, many managers see such systems as costs, not opportunities. The result is that they invest only enough to meet regulatory requirements.
This paper explores the events leading to the development of EMS and how EMS can bring about a competitive advantage. Moreover, it attempts to resolve the paradox by developing a theory-based framework. This framework shows that the benefits of an EMS are the result of endogenous and exogenous factor that impact a firm's awareness of these strategic benefits. The framework is used generate research propositions and questions to be tested later.
Keywords: Environmental issues, Environmental Management Systems, Competitive Advantage