Environmental management and the small firm

Robert Rutherfoord (Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, UK)
Robert A. Blackburn (Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, UK)
Laura J. Spence (Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Publication date: 1 December 2000


This article explores the different approaches taken to environmental regulation of the small firm in the UK and The Netherlands and the relationship of such regulation with the attitudes of small business owner‐managers. Using evidence from 40 interviews with businesses in both countries, we contrast the engagement and orientation of these enterprises with the business‐environment agenda. In both countries, government rhetoric stresses the harmony between business and environmental objectives: on the ground, attitudes of owner‐managers stress that these goals are far from complementary. In the UK, owner‐managers feel that environmental issues are a legitimate area of concern, but government should take the lead in addressing business‐environmental issues. Here, businesses are reacting to a policy context where environmental issues are seen as either a cost on the business, or presented as having simplistic win‐win outcomes. Businesses themselves, however, perceive it very much as an additional burden. In The Netherlands, SMEs have been targeted by the State by joint regulation through legislation, licensing and voluntary initiatives. This results in generally higher levels of environmental care. Small firms in The Netherlands appear to have accepted the importance of this and their shared responsibility for environmental care. In view of the shifting business‐environment policy debate in the UK, it is unlikely that the current reliance on voluntary initiatives and economic incentives will bear fruit. Different approaches may need, therefore, to be explored.



Rutherfoord, R., Blackburn, R. and Spence, L. (2000), "Environmental management and the small firm", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 6 No. 6, pp. 310-326. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552550010362750

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