SMEs and environmental regulations: a study of the UK screen-printing sector
In the literature of corporate greening, the regulatory domain has been identified as a key influence on the environmental behaviour of firms and has been linked to actions beyond compliance and to the pursuit of competitive advantage. That said, studies of the environmental performance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) suggest that, on the whole, smaller firms tend to take a more reactive and compliant stance with regard to environmental legislation, with little evidence existing to suggest that regulation provides a strong baseline for internally driven change. The authors report the findings from empirical research undertaken to assess the impact of environmental legislation upon the activities of SMEs within the screen-printing sector in the United Kingdom and explore the motivations that have driven responses to such legislation. The aim of the research was to examine the extent to which regulation was a factor in explaining SME environmental behaviour, and to identify the nature of corporate responses to environmental change. In addressing these issues a hybrid methodology was adopted, based on a quantitative survey of 200 firms in the UK screen-printing industry and a qualitative analysis of five organisations chosen from the survey respondents. The results of the survey -- which had a usable response rate of 33% -- and from the case-study interviews shed important light on SME attitudes, awareness, and responses to existing regulatory requirements. The authors comment on how far the evidence supports the propositions in the extant literature and examine possible policy implications of the findings.
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