Understanding Value Conflict to Engage SME Managers with Business Greening

  • Sarah WilliamsEmail author
  • Anja Schaefer
  • Richard Blundel
Part of the Ethical Economy book series (SEEP, volume 51)


The objective of this chapter is to contribute to the understanding of why SME managers engage with business greening. Ethical tensions are understood through use of the Schwartz Value System. The starting assumption is that the business framing of the environment, to save money and save the planet (win-win), is not value free but instead draws on conflicting values of power and universalism. The empirical research for this chapter engaged 31 SME managers in semi-structured interviews from a variety of business sectors within the East of England. The results showed that ‘power’ values are not the only way of filtering and constructing business greening. Managers were found to be drawing on the full range of values with marker values linked with ‘achievement’, particularly clear. It is concluded that manager values, especially within SMEs, are key to understanding the interplay of motivations for engaging with business greening. The ‘win-win’ concept needs to evolve to take managers beyond quick financial savings. It is argued that one way to do that may be to reframe environmental issues for business to stimulate values other than power. Practitioner work, in partnership with Bedfordshire Green Business Network (GBN), reports the usefulness of such approaches.


SMEs Sustainability Engagement Values 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Williams
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anja Schaefer
    • 2
  • Richard Blundel
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Bedfordshire Business SchoolBedfordshireUK
  2. 2.Department for Public Leadership and Social EnterpriseThe Open University Business SchoolMilton KeynesUK
  3. 3.The Open University Business SchoolThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

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