Adoption of ‘eco-advantage’ by SMEs: emerging opportunities and constraints

Oxborrow, L. ORCID: 0000-0003-2795-8131 and Brindley, C., 2013. Adoption of ‘eco-advantage’ by SMEs: emerging opportunities and constraints. European Journal of Innovation Management, 16 (3), pp. 355-375. ISSN 1460-1060

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Purpose: Esty and Winston (2006) assert that businesses need to adopt 'eco-advantage'. This paper aims to explore the viability of SMEs achieving 'eco-advantage' by considering their understanding of sustainability issues, how they adopt and innovate in terms of sustainability and the benefits and obstacles they face. Methodology: The research approach is exploratory, comprised of 15 SME embedded cases based in the UK. The cases are participants in short interventions in sustainable product and process design as a part of a university knowledge transfer project, representing the overall case. Cases are based on interviews with company participants and collaborating academics, supplemented by documentary and observational evidence. Findings: The results build on the work on 'eco-advantage' (Esty and Winston, 2006), highlighting marketing, rather than compliance issues as a catalyst for change. The newly aware SME enters a development process which involves cumulative capabilities, gaining a nascent inner confidence, which includes espousing wider sustainable values and attempts at influencing internal and upstream practices in four dominant ways: use of alternative materials, enhancing recyclability (Sharma et al, 2010), local sourcing, and product to service shift (Maxwell and van der Vorst 2003), though few fully embrace strategic ecological and economic advantage. Obstacles include ephemerality of benefits (Shearlock et al, 2000) and practicalities of implementing internal and supply chain innovations.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: European Journal of Innovation Management
Creators: Oxborrow, L. and Brindley, C.
Publisher: Emerald
Place of Publication: Bingley
Date: 2013
Volume: 16
Number: 3
ISSN: 1460-1060
Rights: © 2013 Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 11:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 13:46

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