ایجاد هم افزایی بین SMEs و دانشگاه ها برای صدور گواهینامه ایزو 14001
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|6057||2013||8 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 48, June 2013, Pages 85–92
Despite the importance of working with environmental issues, many SMEs have little knowledge of, or even interest in, these issues. When they engage with such issues, they generally have difficulty fully integrating them into their business activities. This case study takes an action research approach in describing how nine SMEs co-operated with a university team in a learning network to implement an Environmental Management System (EMS) with the aim of achieving ISO 14001 certification. The theoretical contribution of the article is its construction of a framework for understanding the outcomes in a learning network in which a university team works with SMEs. The practical contribution is that SMEs may use this empirically-supported learning network to overcome many EMS implementation barriers (e.g., lack of resources, isolation, and low self-confidence).
Strategic management of companies involves dealing with environmental issues that may have a powerful effect on their products and processes (Partidário and Vergragt, 2002). Large, industrial companies have developed innovative and proactive environmental strategies for dealing with these issues and even for gaining competitive advantage over their competitors. Some companies, in taking steps beyond mere compliance with environmental laws and regulations, have also organized their activities so as to avert possible environmental threats (Partidário and Vergragt, 2000). However, according to Porter and van der Linde (1995), companies spend too many of their environmental resources on fighting regulations and laws and not enough on finding innovative solutions. SMEs also need to take measures to protect the environment (although implementation of an Environmental Management System (EMS) is difficult and complicated). Hillary (1995, 2004) observed that SMEs were responsible for up to 70% of all industrial pollution during the 1990s. According to Burke and Gaughran (2007) and Vettori (2007), this is still the case. Increasingly, legislators, trade associations, and customers are exerting pressure on SMEs to consider the environmental consequences of their activities. In addition, because of demands by insurers, financial institutions, and shareholders (Friedman et al., 2000), many SMEs have begun to address the commercial implications of cost-efficient management of waste and recycling solutions. Such firms are interested in protecting themselves against future costs of waste disposal and transport and in taking advantage of market opportunities for environmental goods and services. Kirkpatrick and Pouliot (1996) argue that companies that adopt an EMS enjoy an economic benefit. A report by the Swedish, government-owned organization for business development (SKOP, 2008) states that SMEs with an EMS (in accordance with ISO 14001) have a higher growth rate than firms not working actively with environmental issues. Porter and van der Linde (1995) state that several researchers who study environmental management claim that the adoption of environmental management practices leads to increased profits as well as to improved environmental performance. Despite the benefits claimed for working with environmental issues, most SMEs have little knowledge of, or even interest in, these issues (Hillary, 2000). When they engage with such issues, they generally have difficulty fully integrating them into their business activities (Leistner, 1999). A proposal is that SMEs use the ISO 14000 series as a framework for developing systems for managing environmental issues (Massoud et al., 2010). Cramer and Stevels (1997) think these international standards will lead to environmental improvements in both processes and products. However, as O'Laoire (1994) concludes, SMEs are not sure how to use an EMS as a competitive tool that increases profitability and that facilitates the adoption of environmental innovations. Although it is not entirely clear why SMEs have been less successful than larger companies in the integration of environmental solutions, various explanations have been offered. These explanations refer to prohibitive costs and insufficient resources (Nielsen and Thomsen, 2010). A third explanation refers to the difficulty SMEs have in exploiting the labour-intensive processes needed to develop the technological know-how. Teece (1986) claims that the environmental activities undertaken individually by SMEs often require knowledge and resources that a single organization lacks. However, according to Lozano (2012a), collaboration can help build stronger and more sustainability oriented organizations. He writes: “This is especially the case where real problems can be turned into learning laboratories where new theories, methodologies and tools are developed that challenge the status quo in order to solve today's problems with tomorrow's ideas” (Lozano, 2012a, p. 556). The primary purpose of this paper is to provide a better understanding of the learning outcomes when SMEs co-operate in networks that support the implementation of environmental measures. A secondary purpose is to develop a framework that SMEs can use to initiate the implementation of an EMS in cooperation with a university team in a learning network. The article is structured in five sections. Following this introductory section, which identifies the research issue and presents the purpose of the study, the second section presents a description of the research participants and of our research methodology. In the third section we discuss the theoretical framework for the study. In the fourth section we present the developed framework and discuss the results. In the fifth section we present our conclusions and offer suggestions for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
A number of relevant conclusions can be drawn from this research. First, the research confirms that the main driving forces behind SMEs' implementation of an EMS are either internal (employees' and managers' initiatives) or external (authority/customer pressure). Secondly, the research confirms that the most difficult barriers are time constraints, and lack of resources, support, and expertise. In order for SMEs to overcome those barriers and stimulate their desire to adopt an EMS, the research shows that managers of small firms need a forum for the dialogue created in the network. In such a forum, they can meet in an atmosphere of trust to discuss work problems and solutions. This network is especially important when the managers are tackling the difficulties and uncertainties of environmental issues that all organizations face (Tell, 2001). SMEs are likely to find that the formation of a network that facilitates the adoption of an EMS is a somewhat unusual business practice. Typically, small firms engaged in implementing an EMS use their own resources, employ an expert with the necessary competence and experience, or hire an outside consultant. Regardless of how a firm engages in this process, the adoption and implementation of an EMS is not an easy task. The results from this study indicate that a learning network may be preferable to the “go-it-alone” course of action. By the conclusion of the project, the nine small firms in the network in this study either had achieved ISO 14001 certification or were well along in the certification application process. Keeping all the limitations in mind, this research makes some theoretical and practical contributions. One theoretical contribution is the learning network framework we created for initiating developmental projects in small firms. This framework illustrates the interaction in a network of SMEs, the use of the learning cycle for the adoption of an EMS, and the three learning outcomes that create “know change”, that is, the understanding of how to change practice. One practical contribution of this research is that the SMEs that participated in a network can use this framework to guide them in the adoption of an EMS. With the appropriate EMS, small firms can reduce their negative environmental impact by decreasing their use of energy and raw materials while increasing their profitability. Such firms can also enter new markets where environmental solutions present an opportunity for significant competitive advantage. Another contribution for practitioners is that this research project shows how universities can play a significant role in the development of theoretical and practical knowledge by organizing networks and creating synergies between companies and university students and researchers. Since this study presents empirical findings from the viewpoint of a single network of small firms, these findings may be limited in their application to other networks. We suggest that researchers conduct similar studies that examine other learning networks. We also recommend that studies be conducted that compare the results when a small firm uses its own resources to adopt an EMS with the results when it works in a network.