Environmental sustainability change management
Environmental Sustainability Change Management: A Best Practice Framework for Australian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
Developing a Best Practice Framework for Managing Environmental Sustainability in Small and Medium Size Enterprises: Learning from the Stars
This study was commissioned by the CPA as part of their Small Business Research Grants Program and was conducted during 2009. The project served as a scoping study for a larger research project on: Environmental Sustainability Change Management: A Best Practice Framework for Australian Small and Medium Enterprises.
The main objectives of the scoping study were to examine:
- how the management of practices and capabilities of environmental sustainability are developed, maintained and managed in SME ‘environmental sustainability leaders’, with the view to develop a conceptual framework for environmental sustainability (ES) change management in Australian SMEs. These ‘star’ SMEs or ‘sustainability leaders’ have distinguished themselves as recognised leaders in implementing environmental sustainability initiatives
- what learning in particular is involved in developing environmental change practices and capabilities
- how this learning might be fostered by other leaders and professional accountants in SMEs.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with CEOs/MDs and other management staff involved in the management of sustainability in twelve Queensland SME sustainability leaders. By conducting a content analysis, emerging codes, themes and comparative development of key logics were analysed in order to develop an initial conceptual best practice framework which can be used for driving ES initiatives in SMEs.
In relation to the first research objective, four stages of managing environmental sustainability (ES) change have been distinguished in this report including:
- the design for ES
- internalising ES in the culture of the organisation
- becoming a leader in ES.
Several components associated with each of these stages have been identified in the course of this research. The design stage comprises four main activities, including setting the foundations of success, developing the business case for ES; establishing a strategic orientation to environmental sustainability; and utilising strategic change capabilities.
The internalisation stage comprises two components: utilising strategic change capabilities and developing an ES Culture through creating conditions that motivate desired ES behaviour.
The implementation stage consists of three main components: the implementation of ES change initiatives; the identification of barriers and overcoming these barriers; and integrating external support for ES initiatives.
The main focus of the final stage is on becoming a leader in ES. Two main components are associated with this stage, including: the achievement of economic, social (human resource and community) and environmental sustainability outcomes; and becoming known as a renowned ES leader.
Since the framework in our study has been developed as a situational analysis of existing SME environmental sustainability leaders, accountants will benefit from drawing on the experiences and successes of these firms in further achieving the goals of developing mechanisms to access and engage with senior executives; and developing a ‘borderless mind’ through ‘thinking out of the box’. The results and associated best practice framework in this study has the potential to assist accountants with implementing innovative approaches to managing environmental sustainability. This research supports the notion that ‘sustainability is the future’ and provides useful guidelines in fulfilling the critical role of managing environmental assets.
Environmental Sustainability Change Management for Competitiveness: A Integrative Best Practice Framework for Australian Small and Medium Enterprises
This project builds upon the work conducted as part of Project 1. The overall aim of this project is to develop, validate and apply an integrated best practice framework for achieving competitive advantage and human sustainability outcomes through leading and managing environmental sustainability (ES) change in SMEs.
The significance and innovation of this research is multi-fold. Our approach addresses several important problems that are shared by significant application domains including Australian SMEs. New methods and techniques to be developed will directly contribute to advancing knowledge within the chosen domains of SME ES innovators but will be transferrable to other application domains (SMEs at different stages of ES adoption and the SME sector in general). The project is significant because it will:
- Provide SME managers, SME leaders with ES change responsibilities, and professionals in SMEs such as accountants, and government agencies with a well researched situational analysis of leading and managing ES change in the SME sector
- Result in several future ES scenarios relevant to the SME sector regarding the impact of potential carbon reduction policies and specific strategies in view of these scenarios
- Examine the implications of these scenarios and strategies for the SME industry, government agencies dealing with environmental training and training policies; professional bodies such as the CPA, and educational institutions and private training bodies,
- Culminate in the development of an integrated best practice model and practical decision support tool which is applied and validated in the SME sector; and
- Provide an in-depth national profile of the current and potential application of ES change practices in Australian SMEs and indicate the optimal ‘choice’ of ES practices for competitive advantage in Australian SMEs (in various industry sectors).
Research Group: Associate Professor Retha Wiesner, Professor Doren Chadee, Professor Peter Best