Development of social, environmental, and economic indicators for a small/medium enterprise

Abigail R. Clarke‐Sather (Department of Mechanical Engineering‐Engineering Mechanics, Sustainable Futures Institute, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA)
Margot J. Hutchins (University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA)
Qiong Zhang (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA)
John K. Gershenson (Department of Mechanical Engineering‐Engineering Mechanics, Sustainable Futures Institute, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA)
John W. Sutherland (Department of Environmental Engineering and Ecological Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)

International Journal of Accounting & Information Management

ISSN: 1834-7649

Publication date: 20 September 2011

Abstract

Purpose

A growing number of companies are measuring the sustainability performance of their businesses. Some companies are using pre‐existing sustainability indicator systems to assess their performance. Other companies are looking beyond measurement of impacts to create their own system of indicators to measure sustainability. Formulating relevant indicators of sustainability performance is a difficult task for any organization, but especially for small/medium enterprises (SMEs) that often lack financial, knowledge, and labor resources. The purpose of this paper is to consider two different sustainability assessment approaches undertaken by a single case study company, a start‐up SME.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors developed a method for an SME, Ecologic Designs, Inc., a self‐identified green business that reclaims materials to make bags and accessories, to create its own sustainability indicators without outside expert help. This research chronicles the struggles and triumphs of the SME in measuring its sustainability performance using a pre‐existing system and then using the developed method.

Findings

The SME's managers applied the developed method to create, select, and weight sustainability indicators to help answer a strategic planning decision – where to locate operations and facilities in an expanding supply chain.

Originality/value

The paper describes the struggles and triumphs of a start‐up SME in measuring its sustainability performance using a pre‐existing system and then using the developed method.

Keywords

Citation

Clarke‐Sather, A., Hutchins, M., Zhang, Q., Gershenson, J. and Sutherland, J. (2011), "Development of social, environmental, and economic indicators for a small/medium enterprise", International Journal of Accounting & Information Management, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 247-266. https://doi.org/10.1108/18347641111169250

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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