Title: Do SMEs perceive environmental aspects of sustainability as a strategic issue?

Authors: Henning Madsen; Anne Ellerup Nielsen; Christa Thomsen; John P. Ulhøi

Addresses: Research Group on Strategy and Organizational Behaviour, Department of Business Administration, University of Aarhus, Bartholins Allé 10, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark ' Research Centre for Corporate Communication, Department of Business Communication, University of Aarhus, The Nobel Park Building 1483, Jens Chr. SkousVej 4, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark ' Research Centre for Corporate Communication, Department of Business Communication, University of Aarhus, The Nobel Park Building 1483, Jens Chr. SkousVej 4, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark ' Research Group on Strategy and Organizational Behaviour, Department of Business Administration, University of Aarhus, Bartholins Allé 10, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark

Abstract: From a strategic point of view it makes good sense for companies to respond to concerns and stakes espoused by key holders - also in relation to environmental issues. Thus, it is relevant to identify patterns in company's perception of these behavioural drivers and how they try to influence stakeholders when communicating their environmental concern. This is the focus of this paper based on data from two different studies: 1) a questionnaire-based survey distributed to a sample of industrial companies in Denmark in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 focusing on their response to the environmental challenge; 2) an interview-based study of CSR activities in Danish SMEs in 2007. The paper concludes that despite the apparent strategic attractiveness of self-regulation, the major influence on environmental related behaviour in SMEs seems to originate from stakeholders representing regulatory factors and they tend not to communicate strategically about their activities.

Keywords: corporate environmental management; corporate environmental reporting; corporate sustainable strategy; stakeholder influences; survey; small and medium-sized enterprises; SMEs; SME perceptions; sustainability; strategic management; behavioural drivers; stakeholders; environmental concerns; Denmark; CSR; corporate social responsibility.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSSM.2014.070855

International Journal of Sustainable Strategic Management, 2014 Vol.4 No.4, pp.359 - 375

Published online: 30 Jul 2015 *

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