Sustainability Practices and Performance in European Small-and-Medium Enterprises:Insights from Multiple Case Studies

Abstract

: The advancement of sustainability trajectories is a critical challenge for most of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs require specific considerations with regard to business methodologies for achieving and enhancing sustainability, since their business case is far from similar to larger counterparts. As a consequence, tools for implementation of sustainability practices within SMEs need to recognize these differences as well and take into account the intrinsic characteristics and special needs of these enterprises accordingly. This paper reports findings from a multiple case study survey aiming to explore new directions for enhancing the sustainability levels demonstrated by European SMEs. Case studies were conducted in SMEs from four European countries (Denmark, Austria, Greece, and the UK) attempting to shed light on the implementation status of sustainability practices within their business core design and suggest ways of transferring such approaches to other SMEs. In this context, three key questions guided the study — What is the current status of sustainability practices by European SMEs?, what are the emerging issues, setbacks and opportunities towards sustainability practices in SMEs?, and what strategies, resources, and competences may facilitate effective sustainability embeddedness in SMEs? Face-to-face interviews were conducted with owners and managers of the selected SMEs to better understand their attitude and performance in terms of implementing sustainability practices. Findings allow highlighting key sustainability practices as well as drivers and barriers that stimulate or hamper respectively the sustainability practices implementation. While findings reveal a considerable variation in viewpoints among the interviewed SMEs, we identify a strong orientation and momentum towards sustainability endorsement. The paper concludes with implications for policy and management planning and an overarching aim to increase awareness and consideration of sustainability aspects in European SMEs.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s43615-022-00224-3
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Operations & Information Management
College of Health & Life Sciences
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College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Aston India Centre for Applied Research
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Aston India Foundation for Applied Research
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
Funding Information: Open access funding provided by HEAL-Link Greece This research has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 788692.
Additional Information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. Open access funding provided by HEAL-Link Greece This research has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 788692.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sustainability practices,European small-and-medium-sized enterprises,Sustainability performance,Barriers,Drivers,Multiple case study research
Publication ISSN: 2730-597X
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 17:48
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2023 15:40
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://link.sp ... 615-022-00224-3 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2023-06
Published Online Date: 2022-10-22
Accepted Date: 2022-10-12
Submitted Date: 2022-07-23
Authors: Moursellas, Andreas
De, Debashree
Wurzer, Thomas
Skouloudis, Antonios
Reiner, Gerald
Chaudhuri, Atanu
Manousidis, Theodoros
Malesios, Chrisovalantis
Evangelinos, Konstantinos
Dey, Prasanta Kumar (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-9984-5374)

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