Adoption of eco-advantage by SMEs: emerging opportunities and constraints
AffiliationNottingham Trent University
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AbstractPurpose: 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.
CitationOXBORROW, L. and BRINDLEY, C., (2013) Adoption of eco-advantage by SMEs: emerging opportunities and constraints., European Journal of Innovation Management. European Journal of Innovation Management, 16 (3), pp. 355-375.
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
JournalEuropean Journal of Innovation Management