Purpose - This paper aims to provide a research framework to explore the change in corporate environmental strategy based on the resource-based view of the firm and institutionalization theory and to present empirical evidence that illustrates how environmental strategy has changed. Design/methodology/approach - The framework and propositions are examined by using a longitudinal empirical analysis using mail surveys conducted in South Korea in 2001 and 2004. Findings - This paper shows that there is a trend in the change of environmental strategies, with companies shifting their environmental stance along the nonlinear and evolutive paths. In addition, top management attitude towards the environment and a firm's slack resources are found to be significantly related to environmental strategic change. Research limitations/implications - The research well reflects the changing social concern for environmental issues in Korea. This model can be applied to explain the change of corporate environmental strategy in other Asian countries, such as China and India. This paper has limitations, including a survey based on recall of the respondents and a relatively low response rate, which should be taken into consideration for further studies. Practical implications - This paper enables corporate managers and practitioners to better understand the trend in environmental strategic change and suggests that managers should first consider top management's commitment and slack resources when the change of environmental strategy is planned. Originality/value - This paper contributes to the knowledge in the research area where research efforts, both theoretical and empirical, dealing with environmental strategic change are beginning to emerge, and also provides the empirical evidences from a longitudinal analysis.