Environmental Management Practices in SMEs
This study predicts the prevalence of environmental management practices (EMP) in SMEs based on its director’s attitudes and perceptions. We draw from the theory of planned behavior (TPB), and social identity theory to argue that ownership social norms, indirectly, and perceived image and financial benefits, as well as company resources motivate the firm’s director to pursue EMP. We adapt TPB to fit the SME case, which combines aspects of both individual –level characteristics (that of the firm’s director) and firm-level characteristics, to explain firm-level practices. Adapting social bonding theory to the current research, the impact of these variables on EMP is proposed, furthermore to vary depending on the embeddedness of one or more owners in management, family, and local community. Data were collected from a panel of 294 Dutch firms in two waves in 2009 and 2012/2013. Using structural equation modeling, the results support hypotheses that ownership social norms, perceived image benefits and financial benefits, as well as two of the three company-level variables (company size and tangibility of sector) are all positively associated with EMP. Furthermore the effect of social norms is fully mediated by benefits (especially that of the company’s image). Two of the six predicted interaction effects were also found to be significant (with a third in the predicted direction but only as a trend). Implications of the results are discussed in the light of the proposed theories. The control variable, sector innovation is also positively associated with EMP. In addition to new empirical results, from a theoretical standpoint, the paper provides an adaptation of the theory of planned behavior to study of SME practices and outcomes as well as a new application of social bonding theory.
Lorraine M. Uhlaner is Professor of Management, specialized in Entrepreneurship and Family Business, at EDHEC Business School on the Lille campus in Roubaix, France. She received her Ph.D. in Organization Psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her current research interests include responsible ownership and corporate governance in family businesses, and other privately-held firms. Within the realm of SME’s her research is wide-reaching, covering also such topics and corporate social (especially environmental) responsibility, innovation and knowledge management and business succession. A second research stream focuses on prediction of individual (social) entrepreneurial behavior, especially multi-level research which examines informal (cultural) and formal institutional influences. Prof. Uhlaner is a member of both the Dutch GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) and French STEP teams. Born in the US, she has lived in Europe, including the Netherlands and France, for the past fifteen years. She received her Ph.D. in Organization Psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, in 1980. Her publications include articles in the Journal of International Business Studies, Family Business Review, Corporate Governance: An International Review, Small Business Economics Journal, Journal of Business Venturing, and Journal of Small Business Management.