Critical pre-implementation elements in engendering change for sustainability in SMEs: insights from SME sustainability leaders

Wiesner, Retha and Chadee, Doren and Best, Peter J. (2010) Critical pre-implementation elements in engendering change for sustainability in SMEs: insights from SME sustainability leaders. In: PERA 2010: Sustainability, Inclusiveness and Governance: People Management Issues in the Organisation of the Future, 15-18 Nov 2010, Gold Coast, Australia.

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Despite the increased awareness surrounding sustainability issues and growing pressure on businesses to adopt sustainable business practices, there is little understanding of management processes and practices necessary for SMEs to implement environmental sustainable (ES) practices. Through qualitative in-depth interviews, this paper draws on the experiences and perspectives from twelve SME sustainability leaders to present answers to the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of critical pre-implementation elements in engendering change for sustainability within the SME context. The research questions examined in this study are: In the views of SME sustainability leaders: what pre-implementation elements are important in setting the foundations of ES success in SMEs; what are the most important elements in the decision to introduce and encourage improved ES practices; and how do SME sustainability leaders plan for ES change in their firms. We also examine how the pre-implementation elements identified in this study, fit with the steps of one of the most well-known sustainability change management frameworks by Dunphy et al (2003). The results show that elements playing a role in setting the foundations for ES success in participating firms include: the SME leader challenging the status quo, gathering of initial information; clarifying the internal know-how about ES, identifying who the ES leader(s) is, and what the associated roles are; creating a theme of environmental sustainability in the firm (what sustainability means to the firm); and the personal mindset of leaders regarding ES. In addition, it was evident from the interview data that apart from providing valuable data regarding what must change and why, the drivers and benefits of ES provide a strong rationale and motivation to the rest of the organisation why sustainability is important to the organisation. Furthermore, it is evident from the interview data that the most used strategic approach to planning by SME sustainability leaders, is a deliberate approach even though the emergent approach to planning has also featured in some SMEs. Furthermore, the CEOs are the main players in the strategic process, with the majority involving staff in planning for ES. The results also indicate that in matching the pre-implementation elements to Dunphy et al’s (2003) sustainability change management steps, the execution of two of their steps may need adjustment to be fully applicable to SMEs. Several practical implications for other SMEs are outlined. In conclusion, the framework outlined in this paper provides an example of a critically reflective approach to a specific phase of the environmental sustainability puzzle in SMEs.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: No evidence of copyright restrictions preventing deposit.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Business - School of Management and Marketing
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2011 04:06
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2013 00:33
Uncontrolled Keywords: environmental sustainability; SMEs; change management
Fields of Research : 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150311 Organisational Behaviour
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150314 Small Business Management
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1501 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability > 150106 Sustainability Accounting and Reporting
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services

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