The main purposes of this thesis are to identify the various stages of environmental man-agement (EM), the factors affecting the evolving EM stages for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the effects of EM on company outcomes.
To accomplish the research goals, this thesis is comprised of two integrated studies. The first study examines the evolutionary stages of EM of SMEs, different company characteristics in each stage, and the antecedents and consequences of implementation of EM. After collecting data from middle-level managers of 300 SMEs in South Korea, we categorize three clusters based on the level of EM recognition and implementation: early movers, followers, and laggards. Early movers exhibit the highest level of EM recognition and implementation; followers recognize but do not fully implement EM; and laggards are behind in both the recognition and the implementation of EM. We also find that each group exhibits different characteristics, and that the early mover group presents more substantial outcomes.
The second study develops a research model to find out causal relationships between EM and firm performance, and other related variables. Structural equation modeling demonstrates the positive effect of EM on performance of companies. These findings could encourage companies to recognize EM as a factor for competitive advantage, not just cost, and implement EM proactively.