Sustainable business models in ‘lighthouse’ small to medium enterprises

Wendy Stubbs, Megan Farrelly, Kyra Fabianke, Sarah Burch, Pavit Ramesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Addressing major global environmental and social challenges requires transformation of the private sector. Small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) constitute 90% of private organisations globally, resulting in calls for research into the strategic roles SMEs can play in shaping sustainable futures through adopting sustainable business models (SBMs). The purpose of our study is to understand the factors that allow SMEs to successfully adopt SBMs. We used an exploratory qualitative approach drawing on interviews with SMEs implementing SBMs. Our findings extend contemporary insights by revealing the important role of the external support (‘enabling’) environment, and identifying—potentially transformative—capabilities that can help steer SMEs’ transitions to SBMs. These include persistence, tenacity, flexibility, adaptability, and a willingness to learn and fail. They enable SMEs to successfully operate in times of uncertainty and rapid changes in the external environment, and respond to new requirements through changes to their business models.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Management and Organization
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

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