Be(Com)ing Green: How Does Organizational Structure and Behavior Shape Corporate Environmental Management?

EPA Grant Number: U915409
Title: Be(Com)ing Green: How Does Organizational Structure and Behavior Shape Corporate Environmental Management?
Investigators: Howard, Jennifer A.
Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 1998 through January 1, 2001
Project Amount: $66,587
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice , Fellowship - Economics


The objective of this research project is to understand the role of organizational structure and behavior in promoting or inhibiting the pursuit of environmental goals in a manufacturing company by examining how environmental issues are surfaced, articulated, analyzed, and acted on.


This research project is informed by an assumption that the social meaning, organizational legitimacy, and effectiveness of environmental management practices are created and sustained by daily action. The methodology used to study such local, cultural phenomenon derives from anthropology and is known as ethnography. The ethnographic method is increasingly being used to study the culture and structures of organizations from the "inside out." Ethnographic studies of organizations typically involve participant observation, in-depth interviews, document analysis, and other techniques that help the researcher reconstruct the reality of organizational life as it appears to its members.

I used participant observations and indepth interviews to develop an understanding of how people raise environmental issues, justify their importance, and implement solutions at a major U.S. semiconductor manufacturer. I spent 9 months working as a student intern with a group formed to address environmental considerations associated with next-generation production technology. Notes taken during my time with the company form the bulk of my data, and I currently am analyzing this data for recurrent and significant themes. My research project will provide a detailed picture—based on these themes—of the company's lived experience of environmental management, an analysis that is sorely missing from the current literature on organizations and environmental management.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, environmental management practices, organizational behavior, manufacturing, culture, ethnography., Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Corporate Performance, Economics and Business, Social Science, information dissemination, manufacturing company, organizational structure, environmental behavior, management participation, corporate culture, corporate environmental behavior

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999
  • Final