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1.1. Aims and scope

2. Proactive Environmental Strategies in Small Business: Definitions and Theoretical Framing

2.1. Introduction

2.2. “Strategy”

2.2.1. Outside-In Perspectives of Strategic Management Industrial organization economics Contingency Theory Resource Dependence Theory Institutional theory Population Ecology

2.2.2. Inside-Out Perspectives of Strategic Management Upper echelon theory The Resource-Based View Dynamic capabilities

2.2.3. Synthesizing Perspectives of Strategic Management Grass-roots models of strategy formation Competence-based view Oliver’s institutional – resource based perspective

–  –  –

2.2.4. Summarizing

2.3. “Environmental”

2.3.1. The natural environment and market failures

2.3.2. The natural environment as a social issue

2.3.3. Paradigm shift

2.3.4. Summary

2.4. “Proactive”

2.5. “Small business”

2.6. Conclusion

3. Developing Research Questions: the State-of-the-Art on Proactive Environmental Strategies

3.1. Introduction

3.2. Methods

3.3. Descriptive review of the literature

3.4. Thematic review of the literature

3.4.1. Antecedents of Proactive Environmental Strategies Internal drivers: motivation and goal-related factors (a) External drivers: institutions (b) Internal facilitators (c) External facilitators: contingencies (d) Summary

3.4.2. Consequences Environmental performance (e) Economic performance (f) Internal moderators (g) External contingencies (h) Summary

3.5. Discussion and research questions

3.6. Overview of chapters addressing the research questions

4. Investigating the Impact of Firm Size on Small Business Social Responsibility: A Critical Review

–  –  –

4.1. Introduction

4.2. Defining the Small Business and its Social Responsibility

4.3. Issue characteristics

4.4. Personal characteristics

4.4.1. Entrepreneurship and ethics

4.4.2. Characteristics of small business owner-managers Time Knowledge

4.5. Organizational characteristics

4.5.1. Resource poverty

4.5.2. Power

4.6. Context characteristics

4.6.1. External stakeholder pressures.

4.6.2. Socio-economic context

4.6.3. Institutional environment

4.7. Discussion and conclusion

5. Methodological and Contextual Introduction to the Empirical Studies................. 108

5.1. Introduction

5.2. Methods

5.2.1. Research design

5.2.2. Data collection and analysis Context assessment Case study research

5.3. Contextual description of the Belgian ornamental horticulture and its relation with the natural environment

5.3.1. What is ornamental horticulture?

5.3.2. The natural environment and ornamental horticultural production................. 122 Plant nutrition Ensuring plant health and quality Energy

–  –  –

5.3.3. Beneficial impacts of ornamental horticultural production and products........ 125 5.3.4. VMS – the Flemish Environmental Plan for Ornamental Horticulture........... 126 The MPS system

5.3.5. The Belgian ornamental horticulture sector General demographic and socio-economic characteristics General business environment External institutional environment

5.4. Conclusion

6. Against All Odds: Realizing Proactive Environmental Strategies in Small Businesses

6.1. Introduction

6.2. Theoretical background

6.2.1. Between intended and realized strategies

6.3. Proactive environmental strategies and small businesses

6.4. Methods

6.5. Findings

6.5.1. Munification

6.6. Discussion

6.7. Contributions and future research

7. Fools Breaking Out: Explaining Successful Small Business Institutional NonConformity

7.1. Introduction

7.2. The problem of institutional non-conformity

7.2.1. Small business institutional non-conformity

7.3. Methods

7.4. Findings

7.4.1. Interaction Scope with the Organizational Field

7.4.2. Cognitive Approach Towards the Institutional Non-conformity

–  –  –

7.4.3. Organizational Conduciveness to Institutional Non-conformity

7.5. Discussion

7.5.1. Institutional theory

7.5.2. Resource-based view of the firm

7.5.3. Organizations and the natural environment

7.6. Limitations and research implications

8. Concluding Remarks

8.1. Conclusions

8.1.1. RQ1: What is the impact of firm size on the adoption of PES in smaller firms?

8.1.2. RQ2: What are the resources and capabilities associated with successful PES execution in small businesses?

8.1.3. RQ3: How can small business be successful in PES when the (institutional) conditions are against having one?

8.2. Discussion of the findings

8.3.1. Methodological limitations

8.4. Future research


A.1. Interview guidelines with key informants

A.2. Interview guidelines for grower interviews

xiiiList of Tables

List of Tables Table 2.1 - Typologies of environmental strategies

Table 3.1 – Top cited articles and their citation number

Table 3.2 - Proxies used for PES in empirical literature

Table 3.3 - Size of firms investigated in empirical papers

Table 3.4 - Overview of research questions and corresponding chapters

Table 5.1 - Data sources used in the empirical study

Table 5.2 - Overview of key informants interviewed in sector analysis

Table 5.3 - Archival data sources used in sector analysis

Table 5.4 - Overview of firms in sample

Table 5.5 - Overview of data sources collected for case study companies

Table 5.6 - MPS certificates per country and qualification in 2005.

Source: MPS, 2006..... 128 Table 5.7 - Maximum point that can be acquired depending on cultivation type.................. 130 Table 5.8 - Demographic data on ornamental horticulture firms in 2006.

Source: AMS, APS

Table 5.9 - Institutional pressures regarding environmental production in the Belgian ornamental horticulture sector

Table 6.1 - Overview of firms in sample

Table 6.2 - Promoting factors of PES in theory and in the ornamental horticulture industry 159 Table 6.

3 – Illustrations of high and low munification along its three constitutive dimensions

Table 6.4 - Variation of munification across sample firms

Table 6.5 - Illustrations of high and low organicity along its three constitutive dimensions 169 Table 6.

6 - Variation of organicity across sample firms

Table 7.1 – Interaction Scope with the Organizational Field

Table 7.2 – Cognitive Approach to Institutional Non-conformity

Table 7.3 – Organizational Conduciveness to Institutional Non-conformity

xiv Table of Figures List of Figures Figure 1.1 - Overview of this dissertation

Figure 3.1 - The systematic review process (based on Thorpe, 2005)

Figure 3.2 - Number of publications found on proactive environmental strategies.

................ 52 Figure 3.3 - The antecedents and consequences of PES

Figure 5.1 - The ornamental horticulture market structure

Figure 5.2 - The assignment of scores in the MPS / VMS system

Figure 5.3 - The MPS A, B, C and D-labels

Figure 5.4 - The Belgian ornamental horticulture sector in demographic

Figure 6.1 - Mintzberg's strategy types.

(Based on Mintzberg, 1978)

Figure 6.2 - Theoretical predictions on proactive environmental strategies

Figure 6.3 - A model of realizing proactive environmental strategies in constrained environments

–  –  –

Summary This dissertation aims to contribute to a better understanding of proactive environmental strategies among small firms. Specifically, it seeks to answer the question “how can small businesses successfully implement proactive environmental strategies?” Proactive environmental strategies (PES) aim to minimize a firm’s negative impact and to maximize its positive effects on the environment, beyond what can be expected from a legal perspective or standard practice in the industry. As such, this dissertation is situated in the theoretical discipline of “strategy”, and the context of inquiry is “the natural environment” on the one hand, and “small businesses” on the other. A specific approach on proactive environmental strategies in small businesses is necessary for two reasons. First, although the impact of small businesses on the natural environment is estimated to exceed that of large businesses, most of the PES research has been limited to large businesses. Second, small firms possess characteristics that make them fundamentally different from large firms. Hence, this dissertation has the objective to address three questions that we found to remain unanswered

in the current literature:

–  –  –

In order to provide a basis and answers for these research questions, the dissertation presents both literature reviews and empirical research. Before summarizing the contributions of chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7 in answering these research questions, the attempts of chapters 1, 2 and 3 to theoretically delineate and ground the research questions in the literature are briefly presented.

Conceptual delineation of the research The discipline of “strategy” investigates organizational performance as a result of the complex interactions between the external environment on the one hand, and the internal possibilities of the organization to interact with it on the other. Although it is still debated whether it is the organization or the environment that ultimately determines the performance of an organization, scholars increasingly agree that theory-building exercises need to approach organizations both from the point of view of the organization (e.g resource-based


view, dynamic capabilities), as well as from a contextual point of view (e.g. contingency theory, institutional theory). Hence, this dissertation followed an approach that combined both perspectives. Specifically, we present the resources and (dynamic) capabilities that aid small businesses to implement their proactive objectives towards the natural environment in their specific institutional and business environmental setting.

It is important to view the natural environment as a specific influencing factor on strategy. The natural environment confronts organizations with particular challenges that can be summarized in three dimensions: market failures, social issues and paradigm shifts.

1. Firstly, the natural environment induces market failures: the costs that are born by those that voluntarily engage in efforts to reduce their impact on the environment result in benefits that third parties can enjoy for free, without having to bear the costs of enjoying them. As a result, firms with proactive environmental strategies may have competitive disadvantages.

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