Clusters Go Green: Drivers of Environmental Sustainability in Local Networks of SMEs

Clusters Go Green: Drivers of Environmental Sustainability in Local Networks of SMEs

Barbara Da Ronch (TeDIS Center, Venice International University, Venice, Italy), Eleonora Di Maria (Department of Economics and Management, University of Padua, Padova, Italy) and Stefano Micelli (Department of Management, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, Italy)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/jissc.2013010103
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Abstract

Literature on eco-parks and eco-clusters has emphasized the opportunities for the coupling of local economic development and sustainability, going beyond firms’ green strategies to include also supply chains and local networks of firms. Studies have described the conditions and policies for the development of new sustainable economic activities in specific areas based on the industrial ecology approach. In contrast, little attention has been given to analysing how existing industrial districts are facing the chances of the new competitive pressures related to sustainability. The paper investigates the drivers and the evolutionary paths of industrial districts towards environmental sustainability. The empirical analysis is based on qualitative case studies of two Italian industrial districts specializing in the production of leather (Arzignano) and tiles (Sassuolo). Managerial and policy implications are provided.
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Coupling Economic And Environmental Sustainability: The Role Of Eco-Clusters

Literature on green strategies emphasizes the relevance of enlarging the green approach beyond firms’ boundaries to include other economic players, such as the supply chain (e.g., Seuring & Müller, 2008). Since sustainability strategy usually requires a transformation in the inputs used for products or processes, as well as reorganization of the way the firm approaches manufacturing and sales processes, firms have also to develop a new “green” approach to supply chain management (SCM). In this perspective, research emphasizes how the management of environmental-related processes cannot be limited to the firms’ boundaries. Rather, it has also to include suppliers as key partners in the achievement of sustainability. Crucial SCM activities, such as supplier selection and monitoring, become even more important whenever the environment is concerned. Another related stream of studies focuses on value chains, which are able to include multiple players in the process of value creation based on green options in an industry-based framework (Jeppesen & Hansen, 2004).

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