Business strategy and the environment in a traditional manufacturing sector

  • Laurent A.B. Soulier

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research is concerned with the relationship between business strategy and the environment within traditional sectors. It has sought to learn more about the strategic environmental attitudes of SMEs compared with large companies operating under the same market conditions. The sector studied is the ceramics industry (including tableware & ornamental-ware, sanitary ware & tiles, bricks, industrial & advanced ceramics and refractories) in the UK and France. Unlike the automotive, oil, chemical, steel or metal processing sectors, this industry is one of the few industrial sectors which has rarely been considered. The information on this sector was gathered by interviewing people responsible for environmental issues. The actual programme of valid interviews represents approximately a quarter of the UK and French ceramics industry which is large enough to enable a quantitative analysis and significant and non-biased conclusions. As a whole, all companies surveyed agreed that the ceramics activity impacts on the environment, and that they are increasingly affected both by environmental legislation, and by various non-legislative pressures. Approaches to the environmental agenda differ significantly among large and small companies. Smaller companies feel particularly pressed both by the financial costs and management time required to meet complex and changing legislation. The results of this survey also suggest that the ceramics industry sees environmental issues in terms of increased costs rather than new business opportunities. This is due principally to fears of import substitution from countries with lower environmental standards. Finally, replies indicate that generally there is a low level of awareness of the current legislative framework, suggesting a need to shift from a regulatory approach to a more self-regulated approach which encourages companies to be more proactive
Date of Award1999
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorFred Steward (Supervisor)


  • Business strategy
  • environment
  • traditional manufacturing sector

Cite this