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There is an increasing focus on improving the pro-environmental attitudes, behaviour and habits   of   individuals,   whether   at   home,   in   education,   travelling,   shopping   or   in   the workplace. This article focuses on the workplace by conducting a multi-disciplinary literature review of research that has examined the influence of organization-based behaviour change initiatives. The review includes only research evidence that measured actual environmental performance (e.g. energy use) rather than solely using self-reported methods (e.g. question-naires).  The  authors  develop  an  ‘employee  pro-environmental  behaviour’  (e-PEB)  frame- work,  which  contains  individual,  group,  organizational  and  contextual  factors  that  have predictive  relevance  across  different  behaviours  and  organizations.  The  review  shows  that the strongest predictors  are environmental awareness, performance  feedback,  financial incentives,  environmental  infrastructure,  management  support  and  training.  A  key  finding from  this  review  is  that  attitude  change  is  not  necessarily  a  prerequisite  for  behaviour change in the workplace. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.




RECENT  YEARS  HAVE  SHOWN  AN  INCREASED   POLICY,   PRACTICE  AND  RESEARCH  ACTIVITY   AROUND  CHANGING  THE behaviour of individuals and organizations to reduce their impacts on the natural environment. The topic of workplace behaviour has become increasingly important as more and more organizations implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) and/or organizational sustainability strategies (Young and Talley, 2006).  For  the  majority  of  organizations  (companies  and  public  institutions),  CSR  and  sustainability  strategies can improve environmental performance, especially when employees are involved in the development of these strategies (Boiral, 2005; Michailides and Lipsett, 2013).


Research has shown that environmental infrastructure (Ucci, 2010) and system changes (Hertin et al., 2008; King et al., 2005) can only reduce an organization’s environmental impacts to a limited extent and that employee re- sponses to such changes are a crucial boundary condition (Davis et al., 2011). In addition, organizations are increas- ingly using employee behaviour change interventions  to address a range of issues, such as increasing recycling, reducing energy use, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reducing water use and increasing public transport use. Appreciating the factors that influence employee responses and intervention uptake is thus critical, and behav- iour change research can help organizations to significantly improve their environmental performance and assist in addressing critical ecological issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss (Rockström et al., 2009).


To date, much of the research on the effectiveness of such behavioural interventions has focused on the methods and tools of changing behaviour patterns relating to a specific behaviour. This research is often deductive, examin- ing  only  those  factors  relevant  to  the  particular  theoretical  model  or  behavioural  focus  (Osbaldiston  and  Schott, 2012;  Tudor  et  al.,  2007,  2008).  In  addition,  relatively  little  research  has  focused  on  the  actual  environmental performance outcomes of an intervention,  making it impossible to calculate  the overall  effectiveness  of such an intervention within an organizational context (Steg and Vlek, 2009).


We argue that what influences employee uptake of behaviour change interventions, and the impact of this on an organization’s environmental performance, is complex and is in need of a multi-disciplinary review of the research evidence. Furthermore, we argue that this review should be of research focusing not only on behaviour changes (e.g. self-reported behaviour) but also on environmental performance indicators (EPIs) (e.g. waste recycling rates cal- culated from comparing quantities in recycling bins compared with general waste bins). The reason is that factors elsewhere  in  the  organization’s  structure  or  operations  may  counterbalance  an  employee  behaviour  change  and cause rebound effects (Berkhout et al., 2000). Hence, the main aim of this paper is to review research evidence and  to  develop  a  conceptual  framework  of  the  factors  that  contribute  to  the  successful  change  in  EPIs  through changing the behaviour of employees.


To do this we use the following approach. We take an existing framework that was developed to map the key an- tecedents of a particular sustainable environmental behaviour, namely waste management, performed by employees in a large organization (Tudor et al., 2008). Next, we review research evidence at both the individual and organiza- tional levels and examine the successfulness of workplace behaviour change initiatives in changing EPIs with a wide focus  on  environmental  sustainability  issues  such  as  transport,  energy,  resource  and  water  use.  We  map  these findings onto the framework by Tudor et al. (2008), and discuss its strengths and shortcomings in explaining the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions aimed at improving an organization’s environmental performance. In the following section we first present our baseline framework based on the work of Tudor et al. (2008). We then outline the method of our review. Next, we offer a systematic review of the literature in this area and highlight the key findings to date in light of the baseline framework. In the final sections of this article we present a revised framework for behaviour change and offer implications for business strategy and suggestions for managers and for  future research in this area.



The Baseline Framework


We started with the process framework of determinants for sustainable waste management behaviour identified by Tudor et al. (2008), which resulted from a case study of a National Health Service (NHS) Trust. The NHS Trust is a provider of state healthcare through family doctors and hospitals in the Southwest of England. We chose this frame- work as it is unique in specifying factors that influence employee behaviour change at both the individual and orga- nizational levels. In addition, it was conceptualized as a result of research measuring the impact of interventions on actual environmental performance (Lo et al., 2012). Their case study framework details which determinants helped change employee behaviour to better manage and reduce waste including clinical, food and paper waste along with monitoring of the organization’s EPIs. The framework provides a valuable starting point to attempt to integrate the variety of psychological and organizational behaviour change techniques that have been implemented in the area of environmental sustainability and to identify common mechanisms or pathways to change.


The framework identifies employee-level factors on the top half and the organizational level factors on the bottom half of the framework (see Figure 1). Tudor et al. (2008) emphasize that the key individual level factors to affect em- ployee behavioural intentions were


  1. the attitudes of staff, especially as a result of the value placed on the environment and job satisfaction, and
  2. Waste management behaviour at home.



The key organizational level factors were


  1. the focus and structure of the organization, the associated management support and availability of resources (finance and personnel) and their contribution to the organization’s culture and levels of motivation and
  2. the organization’s culture (both formal and informal), and its association with levels of motivation. Furthermore, the relation between intentions and actual behaviour was mediated by an intention–behaviour gap.



Review Method


We reviewed the literature available in English on workplace interventions (Dwyer et al., 1993) designed to increase pro-environmental  behaviour,  which  measured  the  intervention’s  effects  on  environmental  performance  using EPIs. In finding and selecting the research we used a multi-disciplinary approach (Young and Middlemiss, 2012) bringing together research evidence from different disciplines, including environmental science, geography, social psychology, organizational psychology and business management. To ensure generalizability, we included research conducted within a broad range of industries, such as universities, health organization, construction companies, banks and manufacturers.


For evidence to be included in the review, sources had to meet all three of the following inclusion criteria.


  1. The paper examined an intervention in the workplace to increase pro-environmental behaviour (PEB). The interven- tion could have been part of a researcher instigated experiment (similar to the inclusion criteria for Osbaldiston and Schott, 2012), an intervention instigated by the organization or an intervention from outside the organization such as a government Importantly, the paper had to include pre- and post-intervention measures.
  2. It included the actual environmental performance outcome of the intervention using an EPI appropriate for the specific intervention (e.g. recycling rate using data calculated from quantity of materials in recycling bins com- pared with general waste bins or researcher observation). This criteria was set because self-reporting can be unreliable or exaggerated (Chao and Lam, 2011). The EPIs used could be either for the specific intervention or for the organization as a whole, which often varies with the size of the intervention and/or the organization. Both improvements and null effects were included. Papers on null effects were scarce, which unfortunately is a gen- eral researcher reporting problem (Saunders, 2000).
  3. It was published after 1980. The reason for limiting research by date is that organizational settings and their con- cern with environmental performance have changed significantly over time, and older research findings would have a strongly reduced validity in current organizations, thereby making these findings less useful for practi- tioners (Osbaldiston and Schott, 2012).




Review Method



To identify appropriate publications we used three techniques. The first technique was a keyword search in the databases PsycINFO, Science Direct, Web of Knowledge, Wiley Online, EBSCO Business Source Premier and Google Scholar, using the terms environmental, green, recycling, waste, energy, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, water and/or transport combined with employee behavio(u)r and/or intervention, e.g. ’environmental AND employee behavio(u)r’. Table 1 shows the total results returned by these databases. The second technique was a Google search for grey literature. The third technique was to search the reference lists of the articles, books and grey literature from the first two techniques for any relevant further references.


A researcher was employed for six months to use the inclusion criteria above to systematically go through the re- sults from the initial search. From the large number of initial search results shown in Table 1, approximately half the articles were on topics not relevant to environmental sustainability in organizations. Another quarter of articles were discounted as they reviewed employee behaviour, attitudes, beliefs and habits in relation to environmental sustain- ability in general surveys, but did not evaluate any behavioural intervention. After excluding those articles that did not meet our review criteria, 17 articles were left. Table 2 shows the methods, geographical focus and impact factor of the journals in which the articles were published.




The 17 articles that were included in our review were evaluated for key conclusions and for how those conclusions related to the factors presented in the baseline framework (Tudor et al., 2008). During this process we were able to identify several additional factors that were not present in the framework. This led to the development of a new, slightly adjusted framework for the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions in improving an organization’s environmental performance.


In reviewing the articles we initially set out to sort them into individual factors versus organizational  factors,   which is in line with the baseline framework. Individual  factors  relate  to the psychological/cognitive factors that     are involved in individual decision-making by the employees. Organizational factors operate at the broader scale        of the organization, acting as part of the organizational context, which may enable or constrain the success of any behaviour change initiatives. However, after an initial review of the 17 articles, it became clear that two categories needed to be added to the individual versus organizational factors division, namely group factors and external fac-   tors. Group factors are the day-to-day influences of managers and colleagues on an employee’s behaviour. They fall    in between individual factors and organizational factors. External factors are contextual factors and experiences outside the organization that can influence the employees’ behaviours. These factors can range from being individ- ual specific, for example household norms. However, they can also be community, stat, or even government wide, such as policies that favour certain behaviours over others. We will now present the factors within each of the four categories in more detail, starting with the individual factors.


Database Number of results
PsycINFO 1 730
Science Direct 0
Web of Knowledge 1 130
EBSCO Business Source Premier 24
Wiley Online 5
Google Scholar 375 000
Table 1. Results of database search for research evidence



Paper                                       Methods                                             Geographical focus                        Impact factor of journal

Boiral (2005) •   3 case studies using interviews

•   Site observations

•   Documented environmental performance data

Canada 3.236
Cairns et al. (2010) •   21 case studies UK 2.725
•   Interviews
•   Car arrival counts
Carrico and Riemer (2011) •   2 feedback interventions in 24 buildings USA 2.549
at a University

•   Electricity consumption and temperature records

Dwyer et al. (1993) •   Review of 53 articles International 1.282
Holland et al. (2006) •   Field-experiment on repetitive behaviour Netherlands 2.219
•   109 employees of six different departments
at a tele-company

•   Questionnaires

•   Recording of paper disposal
Jones et al. (2012) •   Interventionist techniques UK 1.047
•   Questionnaires
•   Audits of energy and waste
Lingard et al. (2001) •   Multiple-baseline experiment Australia N/A
•   Workshops
•   Material input and waste output recording
Schelly et al. (2011) •   2 case studies USA 1.282
•   Focus groups
•   Unstructured interviews
•   Energy use and cost data collected
Schwartz et al. (2010) •   Participatory action research approach Germany N/A
•   Focus groups and workshops
•   Energy use monitoring
Shiftan et al. (2012) •   640 Questionnaires Israel 1.541
•   National average travel statistics
Siero et al. (1996) •   Quasi-experimental design. Netherlands 2.549
•   Questionnaires and information
•   Observations of energy-wasting behaviour
Staats et al. (2000) •   Informational interventions Netherlands 0.762
•   Unobtrusive observation of energy use
Tam and Tam (2008) •   Interviews Hong Kong, China 1.989
•   Cost record for the quantities of materials
and waste generation
Tudor et al. (2008) •   An ethnographic study UK 2.549
•   Interviews
•   Questionnaires
•   Waste bin analysis
Vanhouten et al. (1981) •   Multiple-baseline design Canada 0.762
•   Information
•   Energy consumption meter
Wu et al. (2013) •   Questionnaires Canada N/A
•   Observation of waste disposal behaviour
Zhen et al. (2002) •   Interventionist techniques Hong Kong, China 1.82
•   Recording of quantities of materials



Individual Factors


The role of individuals’ influence on their own behaviour is critical and covers employees’ beliefs, attitudes and awareness   through   value–belief–norm   (VBN)   theory   (Stern,   2000)   and   the   theory   of   planned   behaviour (Ajzen,  1991).  This  category  includes  the  baseline  framework’s  factors  of  beliefs,  environmental  attitudes  and environmental awareness, but also individual feedback and financial incentives. While much research has examined individual factors in pro-environmental behaviour (Bamberg and Möser, 2007; Steg and Vlek, 2009), far fewer re- searchers have examined these relationships in a workplace setting. We will discuss the research that has been done in relation to each of these factors, starting with the factors mentioned in the baseline framework.


Beliefs and Environmental Attitudes


Hoffman (1993) suggested that, for better employee motivation, companies need to balance employee and company environmental values. The evidence Tudor et al. (2008) found showed that environmental attitudes were a strong predictor  for  behaviour  and  underlying  beliefs  shaped  employees’  environmental  attitudes.  Individual’s  beliefs and attitudes affect the organization’s incentives towards environmental sustainability  and vice versa. There was no  further  evidence  in  the  literature  to  support  this,  with  some  studies  showing  changes  in  behaviour  without changes in attitudes (Schelly et al., 2011; Schwartz et al., 2010). Interventions attempting to use informational tech- niques  to  induce  attitude  change  have  had  mixed  success  with  staff  training  having  better  success  (Jones  et  al., 2012). Indeed, it is likely that focusing on attitude change alone to bring about behaviour change will not achieve great success.


Environmental Awareness


Environmental awareness can be split into procedural knowledge and informational interventions. Knowledge about recycling materials, methods of recycling and disposal processes have been shown to influence employee behaviour. Tudor et al. (2008) found that employees who were aware of their organization’s waste management practices were more likely to act sustainably. This was also the case in a follow-up case study in the construction sector, where a combination  of  training  and  posters  increased  awareness  and  hence  recycling  (Jones  et  al.,  2012).  Operators  in the Canadian chemical industry were more likely to improve environmental performance if made aware of their en- vironmental duties (Boiral, 2005). In a comparative study of energy conservation in two public schools, respondents reported that reminders to turn off lights and computers influenced their behaviour (Schelly et al., 2011).


Individual-Level Feedback


In addition to the above, we augmented the Tudor et al. (2008) framework in two ways. First, there is substantial evidence that feedback on employees’ efforts influences their behaviour. Staats et al. (2000) found that a 6% reduc- tion in office heating gas consumption was obtained through providing information (instructions on altering office thermostats) followed by collective, and then individual, feedback.


This information offers reflection and potential for energy conservation. Schwartz et al. (2010) found that provid- ing feedback on power usage, together with supporting workshops, reduced consumption. However, the behaviour change weakened and reverted to previous habits once this feedback and support was removed. The results suggest that information should be presented in simple ways for employees to make sense of it and to draw connections to their own practices of energy usage.


Schelly et al. (2011) reported that feedback provides information regarding the outcome of employee’s actions as well as an opening to discuss conservation in a simple and meaningful language. One student from the study stated ’I think another thing that really helped the school – they started doing lots of graphs and charts, putting dollar amounts. It made is easier; it made a lot of sense to people when you put a dollar amount on it’ (Schelly et al., 2011, p. 332).


Lingard et al. (2001) conducted a quasi-experiment to determine the effectiveness of goal setting and feedback in improving solid waste management performance in the construction industry. They selected the construction of a sports stadium in Melbourne, Australia. The intervention process included participative goal setting and feedback on performance. Feedback charts were displayed at the site. The interventions were carried out for timber and con- crete usage. The results showed that the average waste disposal as landfill for the timber intervention fell from 30 m3 to 10 m3  per fortnight; in the concrete intervention it fell from 19.8 m3  to 18.7 m3  per fortnight. The reductions in waste generated between pre- and post-intervention periods for both the timber and concrete conditions were found to be statistically significant, suggesting that goal setting and feedback can be used successfully for solid waste man- agement programmes.


Individual-Level Financial Incentives


Another additional factor we identified based on the review is financial incentives. Financial incentives have been assumed to encourage behaviour change in employees, including environmental sustainability related behaviours, for example, ’introducing incentive payments for those not driving to work had often helped to achieve higher than average levels of behaviour change’ (Cairns et al., 2010, p. 481). Tam and Tam (2008) studied the influence of a step- wise incentive scheme in Hong Kong to assess the motivation of construction employees to reduce waste genera- tion. A stepwise incentive scheme works on the idea that the ’…higher the waste reduction level being achieved, the higher is the required incentive’ (Tam and Tam, 2008, p. 39). Performance of the construction projects was eval- uated on a regular basis. Reducing material wastage and waste sent to landfill resulted in monetary rewards. If em- ployees reduced materials wastage and waste sent to landfill by 10% or more, employees received a reward of 30% of the total cost saved. The proportion of incentive increased as the percentage of the material saved increased. To con- firm its success a local hotel development project was used. The project was accessed three times at intervals of three months. Results showed positive improvements at each stage. The second assessment reported double the cost sav- ing compared with the first assessment; the third assessment reported three times more cost savings compared with the second assessment. In total, 23% less waste was generated for the construction projects.


Group Factors


This is a key category that focuses on employees’ day-to-day relationships with colleagues and managers. It was not included in the baseline model, and hence added to our revised model. It contains two factors that were found to be of influence on the individual level as well, namely feedback and financial incentives.


Team-Level Feedback


Siero et al. (1996) studied the influence of comparative feedback to encourage employee energy conservation behav- iour in two Dutch metallurgical plants. Two units from the organization were selected and educational information about the energy conservation behaviour was provided. Both groups received feedback on their energy conservation behaviour in the form of graphs. One group only received feedback about their own unit’s performance, whilst the other  group  received  comparative  feedback  of  their  own  unit’s  performance  versus  the  other  units.  The  results showed that energy conservation behaviour was significantly higher for the comparative feedback group. In addi- tion, this group was also more conscious of and curious to know about energy conservation. This energy conserva- tion  behaviour  was  sustained  over  the  entire  six-month  study  period.  Carrico  and  Riemer  (2011)  reported  that provision of feedback on changes in energy consumption as compared with the previous month can be effective in reducing energy consumption – ’On average, buildings that received feedback used 7% less energy than buildings assigned to the control group’ (Carrico and Riemer, 2011, p. 10).


Financial Incentives


Zhen et al. (2002) examined the influence of a group based incentive reward programme (IRP) for construction work in a housing project in Hong Kong. They used a bar code tracking system to track and account for all the build- ing materials on the site. The IRP involved rewarding the group with a proportion of the value of the saved mate- rials. The workers were divided into two groups, an IRP group and a control group. This intervention lasted for 3 months. The results showed that the group with the IRP saved construction materials worth HK$ 705 344.85 while the control group wasted construction material worth HK$ 747,947.71 with the difference between the two groups being HK$ 1 453 292.5. The result indicates that financial incentives may motivate employees to reduce unnecessary waste in construction materials on site.



Organizational Level Factors


Organizational factors shape how employees react and ultimately behave when faced by new interventions such as environmental sustainability. Our literature review identified several organizational factors that can influence the effectiveness of sustainability interventions. The factors cover environmental infrastructure, management support and organizational culture.



Environmental Infrastructure


Our review also supported the idea that accessibility of equipment influences environmental practices. Physical lay- outs of the provisions can be critical in influencing employee behaviour.


For example, Holland et al. (2006) investigated two tools to change habitual behaviour of employees towards recycling. They used conscious planning followed by the installation of facilities and situational cues. They reported that the conscious planning of ‘where, when, and how to recycle’ improved the recycling habits of employees and that these were stable and observable after two months. Waste bin analysis indicated 75 and 80% more recycling of cups and paper respectively. This is supported by the work of Wu et al. (2013), who found a sustainable building with food composting and recycling facilities improved behaviour.


Similarly, based  on the  study  of  38  organizations  representing  best  travel  planning  in  the  UK,  Cairns  et  al. (2010) discovered that pioneering practices among these case studies included better security for bikes (e.g. indi- vidual lockable parking stands and offering cycle insurance schemes), cycle equipment loans, site specific maps, financial  incentives  and  complimentary  products.  Several  organizations  also  provided  showers,  changing  and drying rooms, and locker facilities. Organizations that provided services such as free shuttle buses or cheap tickets for buses that connected local towns with bus or train stations achieved the greatest increase in public transport behaviour of employees. Infrastructural  limitations such as  limited bus services and distance between the bus stop and workplace can be improved by working in partnership with public transport operators and employees (Cairns et al., 2010).


Finally, Vanhouten et al. (1981) conducted experiments in two Canadian university buildings to reduce the use of lifts and as a consequence conserve energy. They reported that changing the setting of the lifts – that is increasing the time delay for lift doors to close – considerably reduced the number the employees travelling by lift and signif- icantly reduced the energy consumed by the three lifts, by 31, 29 and 33%. Their results suggest that convenience or infrastructure provided by organizations plays a vital role in changing employee behaviour toward environmental sustainability and that such techniques can be used to either increase or decrease target behaviour.



Management Support


The attitude and direct personal involvement of top management and line managers and their ability to articulate why environmental sustainability is helpful to the organization is also vital. If senior management have a strong belief in and commitment to environmental sustainability they set an example for the rest of the employees (Cairns et al., 2010). For example, the success of travel plans at an organizational level has been shown to depend on the support by senior management leading by example, and with dedicated coordinators, targets, written plans and actions (Cairns et al., 2010). Also, in a comparative study of energy conservation in schools, Schelly et al. (2011) reported that charismatic lead- ership in one of the schools helped to reduce its energy consumption by 50%. The principal of the school conveyed his personal values and commitment towards environmental sustainability through initiating a programme called ’care and repair’. Through the programme he also set new behavioural expectations of employees and pupils. The school’s environmental science teacher also displayed good leadership qualities. He led and maintained recycling programmes and supported improvements in students’ self-efficacy through involving them in these programmes.


In sum, employees are more likely to take responsibility for environmental sustainability practices if they get suffi- cient support from above, and ‘green leadership’ in organizations is helpful to support environmental sustainability (Schwartz et al., 2010), as these leaders inspire cultural changes and are recognized by the employees (Jones et al., 2012).



Organizational Culture


There is only a little evidence that there is a relationship between organizational culture and sustainability, which is in line with the finding by Tudor et al. (2008). Organizational culture can be intangible, but possess exclusive lan- guage, which influences employee perception and enforces norms that are socially accepted. One way in which an organization could thus aim to influence behaviour through its culture is by environmental communication. In fact, an important finding identified in the literature is the means, quality and frequency of communication about envi- ronmental initiatives to employees. Employees might have mistaken beliefs about an organization’s policies and ideas and they can sometimes be ignorant about the initiatives taken by organizations to promote environmental sustainability. Environmental communication could thus potentially both change the culture and enable the visibil- ity of its environmental infrastructure and positive performance as a potential employee motivation (Onkila, 2013). In line with this, research by Schelly et al. (2011) on the comparison of energy conservation behaviour between two public schools reported communication as one of the factors explaining the more successful intervention at one school. Communication works with other aspects of change in organizations, not in isolation. Communication took place at several levels and conveyed behavioural expectations and success efforts. The school communicated its success through e-mails, posters, newspapers and announcements.


External Factors


Policy and Economic Context


Our review revealed that one contextual factor that can influence the effectiveness of an employee behaviour change intervention is government policy. Government policy can potentially have a negative impact, for example through a favourable taxation policy encouraging company car use. Such a policy was shown to increase personal use of com- pany cars over and above personal use of a private car and hence increase transport emissions (Shiftan et al., 2012).

Presenting a Modified Framework


The new modified process framework of macro determinants for employee pro-environmental behaviour (e-PEB), as shown in Figure 2, is based on the limited research evidence available and hence should be seen as a next step in framework development rather than a complete and final framework. It shows the factors that have strong evi- dence (boxes and arrows shown with emphasis) and limited evidence to support their positive influence on e-PEB.


Presenting a Modified Framework


Based on the available research, there are four broad categories that have been clearly shown to play a role in em- ployee behaviour change, namely individual level, group level, organizational level and external factors. Within these categories, specific factors that are important are as follows.


At the individual level.


  1. Employee environmental awareness is important in terms of being aware of the organization’s potential impacts and more  importantly  knowing  their  individual  responsibility  in  helping  to  reduce  this  input.  This  included knowledge  about  recycling  materials,  methods  of  recycling  and  disposal  processes  (Boiral,  2005;  Jones  et  al., 2012; Tudor et al., 2008) or reminders to turn off lights and computers (Schelly et al., 2011).


At the individual and group levels.


  1. Feedback is important both at the individual level (Staats et al., 2000) and group level (Carrico and Riemer, 2011; Siero et al., 1996). In particular, feedback regarding performance on an environmental initiative improves environmental performance significantly more than general communication alone. Individual- or group-level feedback on targets act as an additional motivational and effective tool (Lingard et al., 2001) as well as opening a dialogue on performance (Schelly et al., 2011).
  2. Financial incentives for individuals and for groups of employees were also shown to have had a positive influence on This was focused on travelling less (Cairns et al., 2010) and wasting less/recycling more (Tam and Tam, 2008; Zhen et al., 2002).


At the organizational level.


  1. Provision of environmental infrastructure was important, including not only installing equipment such as recycling bins (Holland et al., 2006; Wu et al., 2013) or bicycle facilities (Cairns et al., 2010) but also other incen- tives such as better provision of bus services (Vanhouten et al., 1981).
  2. Management support from direct line supervisors as well as top management was shown to be essential in not only setting an example (Cairns et al., 2010) but also providing clear leadership (Jones et al., 2012; Schelly et al., 2011; Schwartz et al., 2010).



All other factors in the Tudor et al. (2008) framework do not currently have support from the current research using our selection criteria, and hence have less emphasis in our e-PEB framework.


We suggest that practitioners can use our e-PEB framework as a guide to the factors to focus on when designing a programme to influence e-PEB in their organizations. In an ideal world, a programme should include all factors in our e-PEB framework to maximize changes in the target environmental behaviour. In reality, limited staff and finan- cial resources are often available for environmental programmes, hence we recommend practitioners focus on the five important factors discussed above. An area that practitioners should probably avoid is allocating limited re- sources to changing employees’ attitudes through information and training, as further discussed below.



Assignment reviews




In summary, our review has highlighted the complexities involved in improving environmental performance through changing employee behaviour and that the underlying mechanisms and linkages require greater empirical examination. We have integrated findings stemming from an array of studies involving various EPIs to produce an e-PEB framework to capture supported techniques at the individual, group and organizational levels as well as exter- nal factors. This is a valuable step toward understanding the antecedents of environmental behaviour change in the workplace, contingent organizational conditions and potential efficacious intervention techniques. Specifically, our review and integration of findings offer four major contributions to researchers and practitioners involved in this area. We outline these contributions below.



Multi-environmental Behaviours


First, our e-PEB framework for changing employee environmental behaviour (see Figure 2) is for multi-environmental behaviours. We therefore significantly expand the Tudor et al. (2008) framework that focused solely on waste behaviour. We also go beyond single behaviour efforts and consider the conditions that may support environmental behaviour in its broader sense, broadening both the theoretical and practical application of the framework. Practitioners could make use of our e-PEB framework when planning employee behaviour change initiatives, focusing efforts on the factors that have received greatest empirical support. By focusing our analysis on interventions and programmes that achieved real EPI change, practitioners can have increased confidence that the factors identified as efficacious have demonstrable practical impact. This will, in our view, create conditions for changes in behaviour and as a consequence, improvements in environmental performance.



Improving EPIs

Second, we have based our e-PEB framework on research evidence that measured actual environmental perfor- mance, rather than relying on problematic self-reported performance. Research approaches that focus on actual be- haviour are needed if future efforts are to adequately distinguish between the interventions that are effective and those that are less effective for improving the environmental bottom-line. This is a methodological issue, as many additional studies may have resulted in environmental performance improvement but unfortunately they did not record EPI data and were therefore excluded from our analysis. Although the existing studies provide a good starting point in identifying some of the key antecedents for effective e-PEB initiatives, there is a strong need for further re- search to enhance and extend our e-PEB framework.



Individual, Group and Organizational and External Level Factors


Our third contribution is that we have developed an e-PEB framework that shows four distinct levels: namely indi- vidual or employee level factors; groups of employees (e.g. in operational units or floors of buildings); organizational level particularly on management support and environmental infrastructure and finally external factors such as spill- over of environmental actions from home. The combination of these levels provides a powerful route toward chang- ing behaviour,  particularly by  encouraging  the targeting  of behavioural  antecedents  at multiple  levels.  This  goes beyond more micro-level conceptualizations of environmental behaviour change (Osbaldiston and Schott, 2012).



Environmental Awareness


In the domestic and consumer context strong environmental attitudes are generally needed before environmental behaviours occur (Young et al., 2010). A key finding from this review is that attitude change is not necessarily a pre-requisite  for behaviour  change, which is contrary to recent findings  by Bissing-Olson  et al. (2013). It should be noted, however, that Bissing-Olson et al. (2013) did not measure actual environmental performance resulting from behaviour. The strength of environmental attitude may be important in determining behavioural intention or self-reported behaviour. Our results, however, suggest that attitude change is not a prerequisite for behaviour change. We have found that environmental behaviour change may be achieved when employees are aware of envi- ronmental issues/policies and are provided with the practical or procedural knowledge regarding sustainable  ac- tions, even in the absence of techniques directed at attitude change. In other words, once employees know why and how to switch off machines at the end of shifts they may do so even without having pro-environmental attitudes, because of the work structure, systems, culture and rewards for doing so.



Implications for Environmental Business Strategy


The findings from our review suggest that employees within an organization should have a clear and meaningful influence on the development of business strategy, which includes environmental issues. This will provide the or- ganization’s leadership with information on the barriers and motivators of the workforce in product/service provi- sion. As a result, the culture and awareness of the majority of employees should be more amenable to implementing the strategy. The environmental strategy typology developed by Albino et al. (2009) is a useful way of expanding on the implications of the e-PEB framework on environmental business strategy; see Table 3.



Recommendations for Business Managers


Sustainability or CSR programmes need to be integrated into core business functions such as human resource man- agement (HRM) and organizational management structures. This is critical if any proactive sustainability strategy is to be successful for the majority of the workforce rather than just those with positive pro-environmental attitudes. Hence we take the strongest factors in the e-PEB framework, as follows.


  1. Environmental awareness should be the focus of training and information rather than attitudinal changes. Furthermore, a focus at the group level as well as the individual level may be more effective. Although this may be more resource intensive, it has been shown to be effective in areas such as quality and safety.
  2. Traditional financial reward structures in the organization should incorporate and be focused towards environ- mental issues, which will again incentivize the majority of employees rather than the motivated safety.
  3. Environmental responsibilities should be incorporated into organizational management structures so that em- ployees see that these are important to the organization and to their own line managers.
  4. The biggest task the sustainability team should take responsibility for is the feedback of environmental perfor- mance data to the group level and the individual level. These data should not be just general organizational- level performance but rather be focused on each group and if possible also on individuals. The individual focus could be on managers, team leaders and staff in key roles, such as buildings operational staff, operators of key equipment and HRM staff.


Environmental business strategy implications of e-PEB framework


Further Research


In general, the research evidence we have identified provides valuable insights into workplace environmental behav- iour change; however, there is also a need for further high quality field studies measuring EPIs to specifically ad- dress this area. We highlight the following three specific areas that would benefit from immediate research.


  1. Individual factors such as levels of education (Ghosal, 2013).
  2. Group factors that influence behaviour at the department, site, task, floor or building level, particularly for large organizations with multiple sites and operations.
  3. The impact of organizational culture on e-PEB change initiatives, particularly investigations that examine em- ployee motivation and job satisfaction, including human resource management practices (Celma et al., 2012; Zhu et al., 2012). Influences of a gender and ethnically diverse workforce (Ciocirlan and Pettersson, 2012).
  4. Examining the extent to which the external factors encourage or limit sustainable behaviours at the workplace are different from those in a home or community settings, e.g. geographical, economic and cultural influences. A significantly higher number of studies are available that examine such initiatives in a home or community set- ting. There may therefore be important lessons from those settings that are applicable to workplace settings.



To conclude, our review has highlighted the potential for behavioural interventions within the workplace to de- liver demonstrable environmental benefits, as measured in the form of EPIs. Our e-PEB framework integrates   the research findings, illustrating the influence of pre-existing organizational structures and processes inherent within the workplace and their relationship in supporting employee environmental behaviour. These organiza- tional-level factors provide additional complexity to the situation, but also an extra set of levers and approaches with which to target employee environmental behaviour change. It is these contextual factors that we believe open up an exciting and challenging field of enquiry for environmental researchers and practitioners alike. However, our ability to develop new theoretical insights, or to develop more sophisticated practical guidance for business, is constrained by the continuing neglect of the work context in favour of domestic settings. The time is right for a concerted drive by our community to match the current interest shown by organizations to improve their environmental perfor- mance with a fresh wave of research targeting this domain.





We are grateful to the World Universities Network for funding the ‘Greening Organisations and Work (GROW)’ network, of which this paper is an output. We are also grateful to the School of Earth and Environment and Socio-Technical Centre at the University of Leeds for funding the initial evidence review, which was the basis for this paper.




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