New Perspectives in Research on Corporate Sustainability series
Edited by Rolf Wüstenhagen, Jost Hamschmidt, Sanjay Sharma and Mark Starik
Chapter 3: A Framework of SMEs’ Strategic Involvement in Sustainable Development
Martine Spence, Jouhaina Ben Boubaker Gherib and Viviane Ondoua Biwolé1 A wind of concern is blowing through every strata of society with respect to our present production and consumption practices and their impact on the future of our planet and its inhabitants. Consequently, environmental and societal factors are increasingly putting pressure on small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs) to jump on the sustainable development bandwagon (Spence, 2007). It is recognized that the trend towards corporate social responsibility will not be sustainable without the adoption of this philosophy by a critical mass of SMEs (Luetkenhorst, 2004) which represent more than 95 per cent of ﬁrms and account for two-thirds of the jobs in the OECD countries (OECD, 2005). This, however, raises the question of SMEs’ willingness and capability to implement sustainable strategies. Indeed, SMEs may not have the resources or the know-how in this ﬁeld that many larger ﬁrms have had to develop to meet their obligations, following the introduction by several governments of regulations to report on the environmental and societal impact of business activities. Even if entrepreneurs are aware of the role they have to play to be part of this movement, the obstacles they face may be too much of a hurdle to commit themselves to such strategies (DTI, 2002; CBSR, 2003). Nevertheless, some SMEs have taken steps to engage in sustainable activities with, so far, positive results in a number of areas such as visibility, image enhancement, customer loyalty and operational savings (DTI, 2002). The question raised...
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