An Empirical Study of Environmental Activisms of Firm's Neighboring Residents in China

Implementation of Environmental Policies in Urban and Rural China - Its Success, problems and Deficiencies
Discussion Paper

Chinese environmental policies highly relied on the command and control measures in the past, which seems insufficient due to the feasibilities of the policies themselves or relatively weak enforcement capacities. Chinese government has recognized the problem and started to modify its environmental policy framework by adding alternative approaches to urge the companies to pursue better environmental performances. Providing the public better accesses of corporate environmental information would help their active participation in environmental activisms. However, it is unclear so far to what extent the public actually concerns corporate environmental information, and what variables are acting as the predictors of people’s environmental protest. With aims to close these research gaps, this paper discusses the environmental activisms of residents living close to the polluting companies. The data is collected by a questionnaire survey conducted in August of 2009 in a selected study area: Suzhou city in Jiangsu Province of China. A total of 343 valid responses were obtained successfully. The survey shows that nearly 60% of the residents worry about the impacts of pollutant emissions to surrounding environment and people’s health. Residential concerns of firm’s other process-based environmental information are very marginal. The people are still reluctant to act against their neighboring polluters. Nearly 10% respondents have never taken any action against the polluters and the occasional participators share 66.2% of the total. An interesting finding is that people prefer to practice the activities under their control. The items of environmental activisms, which require the residents to directly negotiate with the government or even the polluters, achieve much lower ratio of participations (with a range of 5% to 25%). The path analysis confirms that there are strong influences of certain attitudinal components on environmental activisms. Perception of corporate environmental information (weighting at 0.117) directly and significantly determines the formation of resident’s protest intention. Nevertheless, information providing does not necessarily generate practical environmental activisms. The residents have an obvious tendency to act collectively. The disclosure of corporate environmental information shall be continuously enhanced to satisfy the resident’s concerns of firm’s environmental behaviors. The accurate understanding of firm’s environmental management helps the increase of resident’s readiness for actual environmental activisms. The governments need to show their great support to environmental activism efforts. The successful cases of environmental protest will greatly convince the residents to jointly fight against their neighboring polluters.