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The purpose of this paper is twofold. The first objective is to examine the core resources that make environmental management system (EMS) a potential basis of sustainable competitive advantage from the resource-based view of the firm. The second objective is to investigate the set of core resources from the contingency perspective. Particularly, experience in implementing other manufacturing systems and the stage of EMS implementation were tested as the contingency factors. The proposed model and its related hypotheses were tested using structural equation modeling on a large-scale database consisting of 1453 respondents. The results showed that it is the tacit resources within an EMS, in the form of top management team's strategic perception, cross-functional cooperation, and environmentally responsible suppliers, which help explain firmspsila operational performance. The findings provided the general principles in investment decisions of EMS. However, the results also demonstrated that the pattern of the core resources varies across firms with different experience in other manufacturing systems and at different stages of EMS implementation. As a result, there is no standard bundle of critical resources for each firm. Rather, firms need to tailor their resource investment decisions in light of these factors beyond the general principles.