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Title: Competitive advantage and environmental sustainability in the UK food wholesale sector
Author: Jones, Zoe Foss
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 598X
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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The contribution of business to environmental degradation is well documented, as is the opportunity for firms, who seek to reduce the environmental impact of their operations, to gain competitive advantage. The business case for sustainability is often framed as the ‘win-win’ scenario, whereby eco-efficiency measures reduce operating costs and create opportunity for lower prices or increased profit. This research explores this relationship within the context of the UK grocery wholesale sector. Three qualitative case studies have been developed to investigate the approach by UK grocery wholesalers to reduce environmental impact. An analysis-of each firm’s approach has been conducted using a theoretical framework of Green Wholesaling, developed from the natural-resource-based view (Hart, 1995), and the green retailing framework (Lai et al., 2010). The findings indicate that each firm shows a strong alignment with pollution prevention and internal-coordination-based GR through their efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their internal operations via waste management, energy efficiency and improved efficiency within transport and distribution. Whilst each firm reported a financial benefit from their efforts to reduced direct environmental impact, doubt is cast over the opportunity this creates for sustained competitive advantage due to the lack of inimitability. Evidence was also found within the case studies that UK grocery wholesalers are taking steps to reduce the indirect environmental impact of their businesses. However, the competitive opportunities associated with such action within the theoretical concepts of stewardship and external-coordination-based GR appear under-developed, in part because of the complexities of supplier relationships and end consumer demand within the grocery sector. However, there are suggestions within the case studies that firms who manage to integrate environmental sustainability and social responsibility within the overall business strategy, will develop competitive opportunity. A revised and extended Green Wholesaling framework was presented following a cross-case analysis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available