Leaders and Laggards tackles head-on the fundamental question of environmental regulation. Should companies be forced to behave themselves - through strict regulations with sanctions attached - or will a structure of encouragement, partnership and gentle prodding work better? In a very thorough review, Gunningham and Sinclair test this question through a series of case studies.
The authors are Australian academics and their use of examples from Australia, Indonesia and elsewhere is a welcome relief to the usual diet of UK and European Union case studies. Refreshing, too, is their focus on small- and medium-sized enterprises - all too often the Cinderella of environmental regulation, despite the fact that they may be responsible for up to 70 per cent of environmental pollution in the UK.
What Leaders and Laggards lacks, though, is a thorough discussion of how environmental regulation can be designed to promote innovation and tackle environmental problems. To take just one example, reducing carbon dioxide by 60 per cent will not happen just through better environmental management. It will also need whole new technologies and whole new approaches to business. The role government can play is an increasingly hot topic, and will define future debates.