Introduction to Essay Sample
This essay will discuss the research study of Simon Parry on evolution of micro business environmental practices. Findings of Parry are based on previous studies that have identified different drivers of greening process. This report aims to critically appraise the research objectives of Parry along with the methodology adopted for investigation. Furthermore, a critical evaluation of research conclusions by the author are also discussed.
The study carried out by Parry (2012) is focused on green practices by micro-businesses. The author tried to investigate the objectives of going green based on earlier researches that were also focused on identifying the motivators of process. The author followed a narrow approach by involving six micro-businesses in the study. A comparative analysis of all the micro businesses is done to analyse the way in which greening process starts from the root and reach to the large scale and ambitious ecological projects. Parry three distinct stages through which businesses passed through the process. The resulting stages have significant implications for policy makers and advisors, as it supports in identifying that business needs at three stages are different. Thus, findings of this paper develop understanding of environmental responsibility of small business by showing the way activities and drivers change the level of engagement.
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A critical appraisal of the research objectives and how this article fits into the existing
The objective of this paper was to examine the process through which micro businesses 'go green'. It seeks to investigate greening as a process through which drivers, motivations and support needs can change as it moves from one stage to another. According to the Carter and Rogers (2008), the understanding of this process is significant in developing appropriate support mechanisms and to ensure that micro businesses are fully dedicated to greening target. Biondi, Frey and Iraldo (2000) adds to this that concept of green in this article is related with minimising environmental impact, achieve sustainability and continuous improvement in the practices. This analysis of objectives signifies that the paper is not only limited to the increasing environmental activities in terms of plantation but the benefits are also extends to following a complete approach of addressing the negative impact and improving practices that aims to sustain positive effects (Schaper, 2002). The other activities identified in the various studies are energy minimisation, materials production and pollution prevention. It further adds to changes in the firm's products, processes and policies such as reducing energy consumption and waste generation by using ecologically sustainable resources and implementing an environmental management system.
Anglada (2000) mentioned that there is little research on the green practices of small businesses which calls for in depth study which aims to develop understanding of the motivating factors and drivers that expand the application area. In other words, the purpose is to include more micro businesses in the environment friendly practices and made them socially responsible (Clemens and Douglas, 2006).
Suggestions are provided by many authors for the research that would help in filling the gap. Laughlin provided categorisation of research agenda for small business social responsibility that is useful in identifying the particular areas where more work can be done. According to Alberti, Calabrese and Rossi (2000), the paper categorises the research agenda into defining the areas of corporate social responsibility of small businesses. It follows a comparative analysis of CSR activities for large and small firms and identified five categories. Out of these five, only three attracted significant and in depth research while other two still requires more research. Goldstein, Griskevicius and Cialdini (2007) argued that specific learning area includes how the CSR activities are shaped and formed in small firms. This recognises the need for the way socially responsible activities can be changed to support growth of the business.
The concept of environment protection practices gained significance in the late 1980's. Several studies are carried out in respect with the corporate contribution in the green initiatives. These studies contribute to the learning and understanding of the drivers of motivation for the environment friendly practices. Studies also helped in identifying the purpose and motive behind environment and social responsibility by businesses (Bose and Pal, 2012). Comparative studies between large and small firms identify the difference in motivation factors. It further explores the environmental responsiveness and relation between alternative motivating factors existing within the businesses. As earlier studies were also focused on multiple areas of analysis in terms of social initiatives and motives in context with different industrial settings, the present article develops its foundation to develop aims, objectives and research questions for additional study (Thøgersen, 2006). It identifies the way motivating factors vary based upon the size of the businesses. Along with this, extensive research is also carried out that compares and contrast the practices of different sized businesses.
Among the four categories of motivation, ethical motives is the major area of attraction by small business researchers. It is because of the small number of employees, decision making freedom of the owners and managers of small business, the behaviour is often questioned from ethical perspectives. There are studies which are not solely focused on attitude but extends to the relationship with practice. It has been found that green practices are associated with ethical principles of business leaders and standards of owner-manager that seems to be the major motivation factor. In addition to this, personal and contextual circumstances are also found to be critical factors in forming green strategies.
The study by Richard Laughlin (1995) on accounting research undertakes tri-partite approach to explore middle range thinking. Thögersen and Ölander (2006) categorises the research into three divisions which include - positivist, interpretative and critical. Laughlin (1995) said that positivist approach to accounting research are characterised by the ontological belief that there is more to be explored and that more hypothesis is required to be tested. He further adds that interpretive approach lacks a sceptical view which is also influenced by the lack of hypothesis testing and understanding of theories. For critical appraisal, Staats, Harland and Wilke (2004) has positive opinion as it covers well defined theories and proper assumptions which is necessary for positivist perspectives. It identifies the difference between the interpretive and critical perspective on the basis of adoption of particular context in relation with the nature and objective of the research and analysing their implications in terms of social and political factors. Research methods used by Parry also also followed the approach proposed by Laughlin. Ontological belief is applied in the context of analysing practices relating with CSR activities of green business. Interpretive approach is used to identify the theoretical application in terms of green practices. Positivism approach is used to determine the impact of green practices on society. Thus green initiatives by small business are analysed using all approach and their potential impact on the society.
Parry extended the prior work done by Spence (2007) which identified five categories of CSR in small businesses. Parry classified go green practices in three areas, incorporating (1) theoretical foundation to pursue research, (2) level of previous theories and (3) level of social change (McKeiver and Gadenne, 2005). There were however no comparisons made between businesses outside the study area. In context with theoretical foundation, motivational factors are identified and analysed the support the green initiatives by small business. Factors encouraging small business owner-managers for green practices are studied from past and present literature. Studies emphasised need for understanding the way strategies of firms change over time and developed through different stages. The level of social change is studied is studied by analysing impact on environment from harmful activities. Practices by human beings have impacted the environment to a great extent in increasing the carbon level and pollution. These are also responsible in changing the attitude of individuals to adopt green initiatives and contribute to the environment.
A critical appraisal of the research methodology and methods used by the authors
The purpose of 'going green' research is to explore and identify the green practices in small firms through comparative analysis.
The purpose is to identify the motivation factors that support the adoption of green practices by small business in a particular area.
It is estimated to reveal the way micro businesses engage in green activities through an incremental change process.
The author selects the study sample by narrowing down its focus and selecting firms located in one particular area i.e. Cumbria, UK. The area was carefully chosen as majority of businesses in the area belong to small size. According to Uriona, Dias and Varvakis (2010), the selection of population for study is important for data analysis and results concluded. Schaper (2002) argues that areas abundant in large scale industries will affect the selection and sampling of population. Also presence of both small and large scale firms influences the categorisation of sample selection.
As mentioned by Panwar, Hansen and Nybakk (2014), the selection of location is according to the suitability of the research objectives as the area is known for natural scenario and is a major tourists destination, thus attracting attention for environmental protection and improvement. Gleim (2011) further supports the suitability of area chosen from the perspective that in smaller areas, firms, communities and environment are all closely interlinked with each other (Anglada, 2000).
Selective sampling technique is used to select the sample for the study. Clemens and Douglas (2006), selective sampling use calculated decision to sample a specific area or personnel according to predefined set of dimensions. In this case, location, business type and size were predefined criteria for selection of sample population (Alberti, Calabrese and Rossi, 2000). The appropriateness and suitability of selective sampling based on idea that it has been successfully used in many previous studies. Moreover, the aim of study is not focused on green initiative but instead to gain insight into the influences and evolution process in context with specific focus on small businesses.
Parry had done his research through qualitative data analysis. The process of sampling is complex in social research, specifically if it is too focused. (Bose and Luo (2011) recommend that sample size should be appropriate to avoid issues related with validity, reliability and generalisation. Bose and Pal (2012) strongly recommend large sample size to deal with issues of complexity and richness of study. Selection of six small sized firms for this study is appropriate to explore specific issues through in depth analysis. Thøgersen (2006) argued that sample of six observation would be too small for comparative analysis.
As guided by Soyka (2012) multiple sources of data collection are used. Life histories of the owners-managers along with semi structured interviews were tape recorded. This was observed by Parry whose paper suggested tape recording taking place. Significant observations also carried out about business activities and installations, business websites and evidences documented in newspapers related with green initiatives taken by the firm. Rifkin (2011) perceives that personal history of owner-manager provides an overall attitude and culture of the business operations, developing an insight into the motivations, experiences (positive and negative), barriers and opportunities (Goldstein, Griskevicius and Cialdini, 2007). The semi structured interview ensures that relevant data as categorised into questions were obtained to develop key themes. Questionnaire was structured in five questions that focused on motivation and influence on business. McKeiver and Gadenne (2005) strongly recommend background check of population selected for study. Like in the present case, all business had online presence through website. This was followed by identification of strengths and flaws of all firms to ask in depth questions in personal interview, collection of data through secondary research from local newspapers about CSR to validate information provided in interview. An oral interview of owner-managers were held to collect personal info which is aimed to provide an overview of the factors encouraged them to adopt green practices.
The deductive approach of this paper commenced with the use of primary data, going through five different stages in which the first one scrutinises the green initiatives of each firm. The use of deductive approach is based on the purpose of data collection from micro businesses. In the second stage, initiatives were ordered and categorised on the basis of starting data and their relevancy. In the third stage, activities are reviewed in line with the personal interviews, voice recordings as suggested by the evidences and website data to examine the motivating factors and relation between all the practices. At this stage, personal and professional information of owner-managers are collected and analysed in depth. This supports in examining the step by step development of the factors which continuously supports green new and more green initiative by micro business, enhancing their contribution in the environment. Khor (2011) concludes that at the fourth stage, the researcher has applied own perspective and performed sequence analysis separately for each business. This supports in fulfilment of research objectives which requires identification of motivation drivers. The suitability of individual business analysis identifies the specific drivers. All reviews are compiled in the last stage to conclude categorisation. For the purpose of integration of the population reviews, the last two stages are referred as utmost significance by Iraldo, Melis and Frey (2011).
Hillary (2004) mentions that model developed through sequence analysis were verified with some of the sample population to test their perspective. This can also be termed as conducting pilot survey to identify the errors and flaws in the questionnaire and correct those before final survey completion.
Günther and Kaulich (2005) strongly believe that results drawn from the study must be presented appropriately to help every reader understand the nature and objective of the study. In present case, model has been developed to present the sequence analysis. Dyllick and Hocketts (2002) mentions that model shows how firms begin their CSR activities, the process of execution and implications on the business. In view of Parry’s diagram on Compose sequence analysis, it is deemed complicated and the suggestion of simplifying it according to number of businesses first (see sample diagram below). Diagram shows a progressive hierarchy of practices in the businesses for green process. Model shows the inception of green activities and incremental process of change. It also shows the way businesses passed different stages through the motivating drivers.
A critical evaluation of the research conclusions and what these conclusions add to academic understanding in this area of research
The paper of going green concludes that green activities by small firms are executed on continuous basis. As the firms begin these practices, there is change in the attitude and behaviour of business operations to a larger extent in terms of motivation factors which further enhanced. As presented by author, the way these small firms engaged in environmental practices, there is continuous improvement at very stage, each of the initiatives lasts long and encouraged by different set of factors. The findings influenced firms in different ways.
The study shows that green initiatives in small firms are probing and ongoing approach which must be accompanied by flexibility. The firms also face issues in implementation of green initiatives as there is conflict of interest with health and safety requirements and misconceptions developed in the society. Author supports the suitability of pragmatic approach to deal with the issues. The paper concludes that the process of initiatives and estimation of benefits are changing with every new activity. Changes in legal and political structure and social attitude are providing new opportunities in environmental practices. The paper shows that there are different drivers of green activities in micros businesses which are not static. Instead they tend to change with the process and time. The motivation factors also changes from time to time. Moreover each stage requires a different driver to support and promote development of next stage. These findings will also have implications for micro businesses aiming for more greener initiatives and those in the process of inception.
According to research based on the implication of green initiatives by Carter and Rogers (2008), these activities have altered the perspective of green and process of achieving targets while emphasizing on development of drivers. Biondi, Frey and Iraldo (2000) points out that conclusion of this Parry's research paper reveals new sources of competitive advantages for firms from the opportunities and challenges faced during the implementation of initiatives. Another important conclusion drawn by Parry is process of information acquisition. Furthermore, the issues identified calls for an approach which provide mutual benefit in terms of development of wider opportunities for both public and private businesses. In further research by Parry, suggestions are provided to overcome issues.
Anglada (2000) mentions that environmental practices categorised in CSR are source of competitive advantages to the firms. As evident from the study that small firms can develop competitive advantages by adopting green initiatives. The benefits are identified by author in terms of cost and marketing. Alberti, Calabrese, and Rossi (2000) argued that realisation of benefits took time but if the firm is following a unique approach, it is likely that it will set examples for others to follow. The author argued that as more companies took part in the green practices, the probability of competitive advantages reduced. He further adds that many firms do not involve for any novel cause, rather their purpose is to enhance opportunities of business by placing them as noble company. However, as opposed to this, the firms which have integrated environmental prices as CSR initiatives have been able to achieve long lasting learning and innovation. As mentioned by the author, firms aiming to contribute to the society follow an ongoing process and adapt change which provides new and improved opportunities that turn out to be competitive advantages. Parry considers that this is an effective means to encourage micro business adopt green initiatives. In present time, all businesses seeks to develop competitive advantage that took them ahead of their competitors and green practices guarantees sustainable development.
As guided by author social reporting greatly influences stakeholder perception for the business. Goldstein, Griskevicius and Cialdini (2007) argued that small firms lack external reporting of their CSR initiatives because of the size of the firm. Due to the small number of employees, management and workers did not find it necessary to report any such activity in the external source of information. However, as the author mentioned that external reporting is considered valuable by small businesses as it promotes social capital and ensure credibility of the business. It is nonetheless important that appropriate channels and mediums of reporting are used to have larger impact and reach to maximum people (McKeiver and Gadenne, 2005). This is because the impact directly relates the benefits realised by the firms. It has been evidenced from previous researches that firms which developed formal policies through CSR's hugely benefit from the external reporting. This in turn support their marketing and promotion strategies for product portfolio. External reporting tend to be costlier for small businesses, but developing s formal policy for green practices and association with bodies and organisations that give them recognition hugely benefit them.
The paper shows that time available for owner to execute discretionary business operations and information available to businesses are both important for developing positive outcomes. Thögersen and Ölander (2006) recommend that these two aspects should be accompanied by advice and support. Staats, Harland and Wilke (2004) identify different types of support needed at each stage of going green. The foremost need is information and support related with cost and benefit analysis. It was therefore analysed form the personal interview that inexperienced or first time movers require support to develop confidence. Author finds out that although there is support available through number of channels such as suppliers, networks, etc. But there is lack of proper identification of the need. Author said that businesses require support at every stage in the growth process (Soyka, 2012). But there is concern over the advice and support from the perspective of partiality and reliability. Common suppliers to more than one business may not be able to support impartially. This in turn affects the green practices and activities. Support and promotion from multiple sides develops confidence among the owners-managers to create new and stay ahead. Other than financial support, moral support is also important and necessary for micro business to grow at a rapid pace.
A critical evaluation of the limitations of the study and your suggestions on further work that could be carried out
The paper focused on going green selects a sample size of six businesses which are operating on micro level. The major limitation is the small number of sample size of the research. This affects the results and conclusions drawn from the study. Personal interview was conducted from the owner - manager of the business which is again a limitation in terms of accuracy of data. There are differences in perspective and outlook of manager and owners from the perspective of leadership behaviour (Thøgersen, 2006). So the background check and collection of personal information of owner and manager cannot be complied into one as both belong to different categories. It may be that some owners have set a different outlook for their CSR initiatives which were followed by their respective managers therefore personal interview of these managers does not make sense. Furthermore the study also notices that some firms are only meant to promote the news of their CSR activities for sale and profit enhancement and not for the contribution to society (Bose and Pal, 2012). It is really hard to identify which businesses are actively taking part in giving back to society. There is no point in taking the interview and opinion of those owners and managers who are not contributing any meaningful to the society. It is because there are actually no true motivating factors other than the sole purpose of profit making. So involved their viewpoint will not help others. Moreover, there is absence of innovation and developing sustainable environment in the long run.
There is also limitation associated with analysis the internal operation of the business. It is not necessary that each small firm is engaged in similar kind of business activity. Furthermore, categorisation of business in terms of product and service is also not possible (Clemens and Douglas, 2006). In other words, relating CSR initiatives with business operations impacts the outcomes in different ways for each firm. The green initiatives taken by the firms are different from each other, so there is no denying the fact that each impacts differently to the business. The nature and size of contribution also varies according to the activities and firms which also have implications on business activities. The nature, objective, size and type of initiates all therefore vary between company to company. Therefore results drawn cannot be integrated and compiled into one aspect (Mintzer, 2008). It is because the idea of green initiatives are personal to the owner-managers of the micro-businesses. The development drivers at each stage are also different for small businesses. For this purpose, the results drawn can be used only through customisable approach.
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Follow up to this research, future researchers need to establish the extent to which micro businesses can improve their performance by going green. There is also a need to look at cost management before implementing cost control.
- Human resource management
- Cost control – efficiency
- Shortage resource management strategies.
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