Investigating the adoption of sustainable green initiatives in Scottish food and drink SMEs.
Sutherland, Bill J.
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DAKUP, K., FULFORD, H. and SUTHERLAND, B., 2014. Investigating the adoption of sustainable green initiatives in Scottish food and drink SMEs. In: B. GALBRAITH, ed. Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 18-19 September 2014. Reading: Academic Conferences and Publishing International Ltd. Pp. 507-513
Increasing concerns towards environmental issues (transportation emissions, global warming, depletion of natural resources) in today’s global economy has resulted in the need for businesses to be more environmentally friendly and act in an environmentally responsible manner. Like most developed nations, the UK has placed significant importance on the need for more sustainable business operations. However the smooth adoption and implementation of these green practices by businesses is slow due to challenges such as lack of awareness, cost, resourcing, legislation, and incorporation into existing business processes. Green practices are often assumed by SMEs to involve significant expense, and in some cases even unaffordable. Particularly during the recent time of recession, focus has been on keeping SMEs afloat rather than making substantial investment in what are perceived to be “nice to have” green initiatives. SMEs sometimes also cite lack of knowledge of how to implement green initiatives and lack of support for such activity. The focus of this research is Scottish food and drink sector, which plays a vital role contributing nearly £10bn yearly to the economy. However, this positive contribution of the sector to the economy sits in tension with the fact it also generates a substantial amount of waste (estimated to generate 2 million tonnes of waste annually), and thus has costly negative impacts on the environment. This paper forms part of a larger doctoral study on green supply chain initiatives in Scottish SMEs. Specifically, the research has been set up to explore the various factors motivating and inhibiting the adoption of green initiatives by food and drink businesses. In this paper, the focus is on a review of the literature that was undertaken to establish some initial motivators and inhibitors among SMEs across a range of sectors. These were then explored further in a pilot study among six small firms in the food and drink sector Scotland. This qualitative pilot study was undertaken using semi-structured interviews with the owner-managers. Arising from the findings of the pilot study, a scale of “green-ness” was devised to chart the extent to which the firms have innovated by incorporating green practices into their business processes. A more extensive study is now being designed to test and refine the scale with a view to creating a model to assist small businesses in their planning and strategizing in relation to introducing green practices. The paper reports on the early stages of this research, including the pilot study and the creation of the “green-ness” scale.