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: A recent study has asserted that businesses need to adopt “eco-advantage”. This paper aims to explore the viability of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) achieving “eco-advantage” by exploring their understanding of sustainability issues, how they adopt and innovate in terms of sustainability and the benefits and obstacles they face.

Design/methodology/approach: 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” found in a recent study, 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.

Research limitations/implications: The results reveal the scope and challenges for SMEs to adopt more sustainable practices, encompassing innovations and a broad set of capabilities. Further research points to the need to monitor benefits as well as inputs in evaluating sustainability improvements and to consider longitudinal business sustainability issues.

Originality/value: The paper informs the emerging debate on sustainability in SMEs, providing a rich source of data to enhance the provision of business support and knowledge transfer activities, where a more holistic and customised approach is required to realise the real environmental and economic benefits accrued from implementing sustainable improvements.

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
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 11:00
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2019 09:07

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