The Strategy of Using Consultants for Sustainable Business Development Within SMEs
Sammanfattning: Problem: A decisive majority of Swedish firms are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and studies indicate that most of these lack, among other things, financial resources, which often limit smaller firms from implementing sustainable practices. Since SMEs compete with larger enterprises, with more established departments and therefore, they cannot strategize their sustainability work to the same extent. The problem emerges when requirements from stakeholders, based on the 2030 agenda, cannot be met due to lacking organizational abilities. Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to gain an understanding of how sustainability consultants support SMEs in their sustainable development work. The research, therefore, investigated the practical processes of consultants when they work with SMEs. The varying processes between sustainability consultants will also be investigated, so similarities and differences can be discovered in their processes. Method: The research conducted follows a grounded theory, an exploratory approach, an abductive research design, all under an interpretive philosophy. The primary data collected consists of semi-structured interviews with sustainability consultants in the Jönköping area. Following the grounded theory, this included three stages of analysis namely open coding, axial coding, and selective coding. During selective coding, it is critical to use an abductive design to ground the empirical findings in existing literature and theory. The analyzed findings were thereafter transformed into a proposed model which is supported by both the empirical findings and theory. Conclusion: Sustainability consultants can support SMEs with their knowledge and expertise when developing sustainable business practices in smaller firms. This research also contributes to a proposed model that shows the process for SMEs and further explains how SMEs and consultants can work together to develop strategic goals for regenerative firms. However, it is noted that contextual factors and specific gains in knowledge cannot be conveyed in a model. Although, describing the processes of knowledge transfer using an adaption of agile methodology was found suitable for this study. Conclusively, the model’s success is highly based on contextual factors such as firm maturity and the knowledge of the consultant in the specific field under development.
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