An Empirical Study of Environmental Awareness and Practices in SMEs

Journal of Business Ethics 84 (1):45-63 (2009)
With increasing awareness of environmental issues, there has been rising demand for environmental-friendly business practices. Prior research has shown that the implementation of environmental management practices is influenced by existing and potential stakeholder groups in the form of external pressures from legislators, environmental groups, financial institutions and suppliers, as well as internally by employees and owner/manager attitudes and knowledge. However, it has been reported that despite business owner/managers having strong “green” attitudes, the level of implementation of environmental-friendly practices is low. In order to explore the connection between pressures for improved practices and the management actions taken, this article examines how influence from various stakeholders is related to awareness of environmental issues, and how this awareness relates to actions taken within the businesses to reduce the environmental impact of their operations. The results indicate that legislation does result in general environmental awareness, and that organizations are then willing to␣change their business processes and environmental strategies. However, despite their actions they have little awareness of the benefits that might arise from cost reductions from their environmental-friendly practices. Those influenced by their suppliers act to reduce waste, but do not put into place formal environmental management systems, or use environmental messages to market their goods or services. Nevertheless, it can be argued that they have a real commitment to environmental issues, as evidenced by a willingness to voluntarily contribute to environmental organizations.
Keywords environmental attitudes  environmental awareness  environmental management practices  SMEs
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-008-9672-9
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