Research and Literature Review of Green SMEs

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Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) play a crucial role in economic development of any country. At present, SMEs are significantly contributing towards employment and future growth prospects in both developing and developed countries. With reference to Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) press release 2009, there were approximately 4.8 million SMEs in the UK which employed 22.8 million people and estimated annual combined turnover of £3,200 billion (BIS Press Release, 2009).

The "greening" of SMEs, an evolving concept, is considered as cornerstones by governments and various organizations in UK and also in other countries like U.S.A., China, and Philippines etc. (Blackman, 2009). SMEs have significant contribution to generate employment, improve economy along-with considering their contribution to the environment.

In the last decade, to improve environment UK and EU had passed several legislations. With these new regulations, SMEs perceive the greatest pressure to improve environmental performance to comply with these regulations.

All conventional theories stated that with the introduction of Green Supply Chain (GSC) costs more to SMEs in contrast to benefits. They argued that SMEs has lack of resources (SHUAI & WANG Lin, 2008). While doing literature review, the researcher found that there were many studies performed to explore the relationship of GSC and SMEs in developing countries like China, Philippines, but there was lack of studies to analyse the influence of GSC on the performance of SMEs in developed countries like UK. Therefore, the researcher will explore this area and contribute to other researches performed on SMEs in other part of world. < look for a better sentence>...............................

In order to complete research and discuss about the impact of GSC on SMEs, few key terms which are used within this proposal are defined under section 2.

Look for SMEs details at MexicoResearch Objective and Boundaries

Main objective of this research is to analyse the impact of GSC on the performance of SMEs in UK and compare it with other countries like China, Philippines and Mexico to find that whether there are any discernible differences between developed and developing countries.

Research Objective

This research will attempt to answer to the following questions:

Understand the concept of green supply chain.

What are the benefits of adopting green supply chain in SMEs in UK?

What are the impacts of green supply chain on SMEs in UK and are there any differences on the impacts between UK and other countries?

Research Boundaries

With consideration of limited time to complete the research, it is necessary to restrict the research to only few SMEs available in Sheffield, UK. The researcher is working with management school to get access.

Literature Review

The primary objective of this study is to examine the responses of SMEs in the UK to the pressures to improve their environmental performance.

With the on-going changes in global environment due to global warming have changed peoples view in the products they buy. Consumers are now more concerned about the environmental changes. It has changed their habits of buying goods/products. Consumers now prefer to buy those products which are environment friendly, recyclable and save energy, which forced organizations to look towards green production. Therefore, change in the consumers' perspective introduced the concept of GSC.

GSC means the production of products that are environment friendly and made from parts which are recyclable.

The term "Green Supply" defines the number of actions performed by SMEs while keeping environment on their top priority during procurement from their supply chain. It can be argued that nowadays green supply becoming a crucial element to achieve sustainability with in SMEs and in economy. The impact of green supply chain with green purchase decision could be summarised as:

Supplier get benefit with an extra sale of green product

It is important to understand the definition of SME in UK perspective. UK government defined SME as:

"Small enterprises have less than 50 employees and turnovers of less than E10 million, while medium ones have less than 250 employees and turnovers of less than E50 million" (North East SME). 

In order to make comparison between the UK, China and Philippines, it is important to understand the definition of SMEs' in these countries.

In China, Under the current standards set seven years ago, companies are regarded as medium-sized enterprises if they employ 300 to 2,000 people, have annual sales of 30 to 300 million Yuan and own assets worth 40 to 400 million Yuan.

Companies that employ fewer than 300 people, earn less than 30 million Yuan in annual sales and have assets of less than 40 million Yuan are classified as small-sized. There are 10.3 m SMEs which contributing 60% of GDP in China (

In this proposal, the researcher is focusing on the impact of Green Supply Chain on SMEs in developed countries like UK in comparison to developing countries like China, Philippines.

Research Methodology

While looking the paucity of research concerning the influence of Green Supply Chain on the performance of SMEs, the deductive process described by (Bryman & Bell, 2007) will be used. It will yield some really interesting findings and insights about the impact of GSC on SMEs.

Data Collection:

In order to address the research questions and full fill research objectives, Mixed Methods approach (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2009) will be used to collect the data which is having a dependency upon the access availability (Management school will help to gain access to collect these data):

To understand GSC concept various literature and publications available from academics, the internet, the companies understudy will be reviewed.

Based on the finding from various literatures, a survey questionnaire (refer Appendix 2) is developed to capture the following information from a sample of companies under study and from membership organizations like Chamber of Commerce. The researcher is having an access to conduct the survey with chamber of commerce. The survey questionnaire has open and closed questions, a number for ranking techniques.

The output of survey questionnaire will be used for further analysis.

According to Tashakkori and Teddlie, Mixed methods are very useful and provide better opportunity to find answer to research questions, and also allows researcher to better evaluate his research findings to an extent so that it can be trusted and inferences made from them (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003).

There are two advantages with Mixed Methods approach in this research project. First, for different purposes during research different methods could be used. For example, interview technique could be used at an exploratory stage where researcher will get a feel for key issues. Based on the findings at this level survey questionnaire will be used to collect explanatory data. It will support researcher to address all important aspects of research findings.

Each data collection techniques (quantitative and qualitative) have their own advantages and drawbacks (Smith, 1981), thus the results could be affected by the technique used. This is another reason to choose Mixed methods approach. Due to the time constraint, the data collection will be a snapshot (Cross-sectional studies) taken at a particular time. Since different techniques have different effects, using Mixed approach will help to cancel out the 'Method effect', which will lead to an enhanced conclusion at the end of research.

Data Analysis:

The analysis of qualitative and quantitative data represents a process where researcher iteratively moves between raw data and its interpretation.

Limitations and Potential Problems

During the research following limitations and potential problem are foreseen:

There could be poor responses to questionnaire and surveys. In order to overcome this limitation, telephonic and email based follow ups will be made to respondents. The necessary information required to complete this research will be collected through telephone or face-to-face interviews with participants as and when required and possible.

There could be a problem to access the organizations and other information related to research subject. The University of Sheffield assistance will be required to avoid these circumstances.

Research Plan



BIS Press Release, 2009. (n.d.). Retrieved Mar 04, 2011, from Department for Business Innovation & Skills:

Blackman, A. (2009). Alternative Pollution Control Policies in Developing Countries: Informal, Informational, and Voluntary. Discussion Paper EfD.

Bryman, A., & Bell, E. (2007). Business Research Methods. Oxford Univesity Press. (n.d.). Retrieved Mar 19, 2011, from

North East SME. (n.d.). Retrieved Mar 03, 2011, from

SHUAI, L., & WANG Lin, C. (2008). An Empirical Study on Relationship between Green Supply Chain Management and SME Performance in China. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management.