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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how to meaningfully engage small‐ to medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) in strategies that improve the social and environmental sustainability of their businesses. Design/methodology/approach – This paper is a conceptual review of the business case for sustainable development that has been offered to the business world. The paper describes the unique features of SMEs that indicate the need to reframe the case for socially and environmentally sustainable business practices for SMEs, and, using arguments discussed in the literature, we summarize the business case for sustainable development that has been specified for SMEs. Findings – SMEs need particular attention when it comes to business strategies for sustainable development, since the business case is not the same as for large firms. Furthermore, tools that are developed to support sustainability in SMEs need to recognize that these companies have different resources and profiles than larger firms. Research limitations/implications – Sustainable development as a concept captures most issues facing our societies, which means there are endless possibilities for companies to find strategies that will impact – and hopefully improve – their social and environmental performance. While this paper does not provide empirical evidence and support, it offers some insights on practical and social implications of SMEs engaging in sustainability. Practical implications – This overview may help and give ideas to owners and managers of SMEs to rethink their overall business strategy by not only incorporating sustainability in their core values and actions but also implementing such strategy. In fact, this diversity of opportunities is where there is hope for turning the current world trajectory towards healthy and resilient human and natural communities. Originality/value – This paper provides review of the current debates and opportunities in business strategies for sustainable development, and an application to the realities of business operations for SMEs.
Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 28, 2010
Keywords: Management strategy; Small to medium‐sized enterprises; Sustainable development
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