Exploring business growth and eco innovation in rural small firms
September 20, 2013 Editor 0
Purpose – The paper explores eco innovation in rural small firms. It looks at the motivations of rural small business owners for eco innovation and the extent to which rurality is important. Owner managers’ perceptions of how eco innovation had, or would, contributed to growth in the future are also explored. Design/methodology/approach – This is a qualitative study involving micro level exploration of eight growth-oriented rural small firms and their implementation of eco innovation. These case studies involved semi-structured interviews, observation of practices in the firm and review of documentation and web-based materials. Findings – Within each of the case study businesses, eco-innovation involved changing business processes to reduce waste and to reduce the amounts of raw materials consumed. Rurality was described as very important due to closeness to the impacts of climate change and firms’ visibility within their local communities. Although none of the businesses identified growth as a motivating factor, each enjoyed economic benefits as a result of their pro-environmental behaviour. Research limitations/implications – As a small scale study of eight atypical firms, the findings cannot be readily generalised. Rather, they provide insight to how eco innovation can address both the environmental and the economic. Practical implications – The findings may be useful for those wishing to encourage pro environmental behaviours and eco innovation among rural SMEs. Originality/value – The paper contributes to the currently limited literature on how and why SMEs are implementing pro environmental practice, and also in relation to greener operational practice and business growth.
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Tags: rural small firms
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