Better regulation - rethinking the approach for SMEs

David Williamson, Gary Lynch-Wood, A Prochorskaite, Carolyn Abbot, A Ogus

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


The finding that environmental compliance can be improved for small and medium enterprises when regulatory resources are aligned to the compliance orientation and capacity of firms is both challenging and exciting. It is challenging because it requires that we question preconceived ideas about how we should regulate firms – and exciting since it provides an opportunity for improved environmental performance for all firms. A key feature of the analysis is that we can accommodate differences in compliance orientation and capacity by correctly aligning regulatory instruments, mechanisms for ensuring compliance with these regulatory instruments, and when these fail, strategies for dealing with non-compliance. Also, to ensure that the most effective practices are used within this schema, the project reviewed approaches in other countries and advisory and non-environmental regulators in the UK. The suitability of these practices was then assessed by canvassing the views of environmental agency staff and small and medium enterprises in Scotland and Northern Ireland. With this information in hand the practices were then positioned against the environmental compliance orientations of firms, producing four distinct compliance postures that are named ‘most difficult to control’, ‘most vulnerable’, ‘most easily controlled’, and ‘most compliant’. The report concludes by recommending that aspects of the approach be piloted to assist future implementation
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherScotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research
Number of pages138
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008

Publication series

NameScottish and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research
PublisherScottish and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research


  • better regulation, compliance capacity, compliance assistance


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