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Small Scale Sustainability: A Qualitative Study of Corporate Sustainability in Swedish SMEs
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This qualitative study aims to contribute to the research field on corporate sustainability (CS) in small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs), in hopes of helping policymakers better understand the circumstances for Swedish SMEs and how they work with CS. Empirical data about motivations behind working with CS, implementation of CS activities, and effects of CS work were collected through in-depth interviews with 18 company representatives. The major reason for motivation was found to be personal interest and commitment to these kind of practices, followed by strengthening the competitiveness, marketing, initiative from management and board, and profitability aspects. The implementation process is often informal in nature with concrete measures and activities rather than formal policies and strategies, although a few of the companies make use of tools such as environmental management systems. How the companies communicate their CS work differs and the response from stakeholders varies too. Lastly, profitability was found to be an important effect for some, while others more heavily emphasize the personal satisfaction from doing the right thing and being sustainable. The social effects were mostly improved working conditions and more engagement from stakeholders, while the environmental impact was understood to mostly concern a decrease in consumption of finite resources, and a more efficient use of material and energy. Suggestions for improving CS work in Swedish SMEs are increased support and encouragement from the government, and more education and information about what companies can do and how they can do it with appropriate tools. Concluding, CS in Swedish SMEs must be studied further to gain a more comprehensive picture of how to support those SMEs already working with CS and those in the path of transitioning towards a more sustainable development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 45 p.
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 294
Keyword [en]
Sustainable Development, Corporate sustainability (CS), Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Sweden
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-295807OAI: diva2:934969
External cooperation
Beyond Intent
Subject / course
Sustainable development
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
2016-05-30, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 09:45 (English)
Available from: 2016-06-10 Created: 2016-06-09 Last updated: 2016-06-10Bibliographically approved

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