Measuring industrial sustainability performance: Empirical evidence from Italian and German manufacturing small and medium enterprises

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Cleaner Production, 2019, 229 pp. 1355 - 1376
Issue Date:
2019-08-20
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JCLEPRO16841-accepted manuscript.pdfAccepted Manuscript Version1.63 MB
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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd Measuring industrial sustainability performance in manufacturing firms is still a major challenge for both policy and industrial decision makers, with many firms, particularly small and medium enterprises, struggling to properly engage with them. Hence, to understand the level of adoption of industrial sustainability indicators and the issues preventing their effective measurement, and stimulate further research in this area, a multiple case analysis of 26 small and medium manufacturing enterprises across Germany and Italy operating in the chemical and metalworking sectors was conducted. The findings show that only 18 indicators are in place on average. Furthermore, too many firms still focus almost exclusively on the economic pillar of sustainability, while social and environmental pillars are addressed almost exclusively for compliance with legislation. Moreover, the research suggests that contextual factors may influence the firms’ perspective on sustainability and the way it is managed, as well as the certifications held by firms, influencing, in turn, the number and types of indicators considered. An exploratory investigation allowed identification of several important open issues, leading to future research avenues, and in particular towards the development of a novel model to gauge sustainability in industrial activities, as well as adoption of policy-making measures for further emphasis on environmental and social pillars when promoting the adoption of sustainability indicators.
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