Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Research
  3. Research projects
  4. Growing Greener: Creating a New Values-based Environmental Engagement Toolkit for SME Intermediaries

Growing Greener: Creating a New Values-based Environmental Engagement Toolkit for SME Intermediaries

ESRC Logo       ECI Logo       Business School Logo

An ESRC Impact Acceleration Account project

This project combines leading-edge research on SME growth processes and environmental behaviours with practitioner expertise in SME engagement and climate change communication. Its primary aim is to help SMEs and intermediaries gain a better understanding of sustainable growth and its implications for their businesses.

Project outline

ogo of Growing Green

To meet the sustainability challenge, SMEs will need to make significant, and in some cases radical, changes to their day-to-day operational practices and also to their longer-term trajectories. Intermediaries such as professional associations, business advisors and economic development organisations can help SMEs make this transition successfully. The primary aim of this project is to help SMEs and intermediaries gain a better understanding of sustainable growth and its implications for their businesses. 

The ESRC IAA ‘Kickstarting Impact’ project, ‘Growing Green: SME perspectives on sustainable growth in a low carbon economy’ (2017-18) drew on the team’s multi-disciplinary research expertise to pilot an innovative values-based approach to engaging SME owners and managers in workshop-based conversations about climate change and other environmental issues.  

We completed a literature review and conducted a short questionnaire survey, the ‘Oxfordshire Sustainable Growth Survey 2017’, which helped to inform the workshop design. This was followed by two in-depth workshops, facilitated by Dr Chris Shaw from Climate Outreach. We have also organised a webinar, hosted by Climate Outreach, and given informal presentations to audiences of academics and policymakers.

Other outputs included a research paper on the pilot project, which we presented at the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship conference in Belfast in November 2017, and a short-form video, in which workshop participants discuss their experiences.  A second video asset from the pilot, featuring our University of Oxford partner, Sam Hampton, was also used as the basis for a learning activity in the new 30 point undergraduate module, B327 Creating Futures: Sustainable Enterprise and Innovation.

Next steps – engaging SME intermediaries

The Growing Green research team has now secured Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Award (IAA) funding for a larger follow-on project, Growing Greener: Creating a New Values-based Environmental Engagement Toolkit for SME Intermediaries (2018-19). The team will build on the findings of the pilot project, refine their engagement model and develop a comprehensive toolkit and accompanying resources for use by business support intermediaries. The aim is to broaden the scope and flexibility of the values-based approach, so that it can be used in a variety of scenarios where intermediaries are working directly with SMEs and seeking to promote more environmentally-sustainable practices.

To find out more about the 'Growing Greener' project, or other work related to sustainability and enterprise, please contact: Richard Blundel

Project videos

Workshop participants discuss their experiences

Video recording by Mike Lord, Blue Lotus Media.

Sam Hampton reviews the challenges and opportunities for SMEs

This video is featured in a new undergraduate module from The Open University, B327 Creating Futures: Sustainable Enterprise and Innovation.

Core team

Professor Richard Blundel, Professor of Enterprise and Organisation at The Open University and an Honorary Fellow of the ESRC Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP), University of Surrey.

Dr Tina Fawcett, Senior Researcher at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford.

Sam HamptonNetwork Navigator for Business Resource Efficiency at Oxfordshire Business Support and a research student the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford.

Dr Chris Shaw,Senior Researcher at Climate Outreach, Associate of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and is a member of the Visiting Faculty at the School of Business, Management and Economics at the University of Sussex.

Key associates and contributors

Climate Outreach (formerly COIN) are one of Europe’s leading experts on climate change communication, bridging the gap between research and practice.

Oxfordshire Business Support (OBS) is the Growth Hub for Oxfordshire provided through the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP).

Professor Fergus Lyon is Deputy Director of the ESRC Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) and Professor of Enterprise and Organisations in the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR), Middlesex University.

Dr Anja Schaefer is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Business at Maynooth University, Ireland.

Dr Sarah Williams is an experienced business consultant and university lecturer who has worked for The Open University and is currently based at the University of Bedfordshire.

Upcoming Events

May 27

Are We Data?

Sunday, May 27, 2018 - 12:00 to 18:00

Tate Exchange, Bankside, London

Jun 5

Is the world going quants mad? Lessons from financial experts and history

Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 17:45 to 19:00

Church House, Deans Yard, Westminster, London, SW1P 3NZ

Jun 13

What is the Future of Professional Knowledge and Learning? An Unconference

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 10:00 to 15:30

The Open University in London, 1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden Town, London, NW1 8NP

See All