A new research project led by The Open University (OU) and the University of Oxford aims to engage small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) with the challenges of climate change.
The Growing Greener: Creating a New Values-based Environmental Engagement Toolkit for SME Intermediaries has received funding totalling £48,329 from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Award (IAA).
Richard Blundel, Professor of Enterprise and Organisation at the OU and Dr Tina Fawcett, Senior Researcher at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, are leading a small team with Dr Chris Shaw of communications specialists, Climate Outreach and other non-academic partners, including Oxfordshire Business Support.
In order to secure IAA funding the OU/University of Oxford partnership had to demonstrate how their project would create ‘real world’ impact.
“Around 99% of businesses are classified as SMEs,” said Professor Blundel “so while individual enterprises might not have the environmental footprints of large industrial corporations, their aggregate impact is huge – this means that they have a key role to play in addressing climate change and other environmental issues.”
Growing Greener builds on a small ESRC IAA pilot project in 2017, which drew on the team’s multi-disciplinary research expertise to engage SMEs through an online survey, informal interviews and two facilitated workshops. The team will now be refining their engagement model and developing a new toolkit for business support intermediaries, which can be used to promote more environmentally-sustainable practices.
Video assets from the pilot, featuring Oxford University research partner, Sam Hampton, were also used as the basis for a learning activity for the new OU 30 point undergraduate module, B327 Creating Futures: Sustainable Enterprise and Innovation (first presentation 17J).