The purpose of this paper is to explore the viability of the ecological furniture niche markets in Greece and Cyprus. More specifically, the authors investigate the current demand on ecological furniture, business strategy and planning in introducing eco-furniture products in Greek and Cypriot market. Finally, particular emphasis lays on the analysis of the barriers regarding decision making of Greek and Cypriot enterprises in order to incorporate ecological furniture into their current activities.
Based on three distinguished hypotheses, the study seeks to draw attention to the critical factors which will impact decision making on such products development within the severe crisis. Using a prototype questionnaire, specifically structured for the aim of the research, the authors collected data from 36 Greek furniture enterprises, 25 Cypriot ones and 24 sectoral experts and relevant institutes in Greece and Cyprus. The questionnaires were selected in 2012, which were further elaborated and statistically analyzed with SPSS ver 17.0 after they were tested for their content and construct validity, managing to verify the hypotheses.
The study reveals an increasing sensitivity for environmental issues and an effort to combine it with the emergent green markets. Green strategies can lead to significant competitive advantages for Greek and Cypriot furniture firms, especially after the recovery of the long-lasting recession. Furniture manufacturers believe that environmental issues are tightly related to consumer behaviors and social image, expose a real interest for the environment and consider green strategies as a major way to differentiate. The firms of the sample focus on raw material and processes adapted to suit environmental requirements. On the other hand, these issues constitute major barriers to apply such strategies together with business risk and the lack of knowledge regarding the requirements of environmental sustainability.
The research bears certain limitations such as the sample size and the fact that results are based mainly on perceptions of entrepreneurs/managers. Thus, there are certain questions on objectivity and generalizability. Furthermore, the market aspect is examined through the lens of the entrepreneurs and experts and not the consumers themselves.
The present research explores the why and how furniture companies turn green constituting a useful basis to encourage close collaborations of companies to academia, design and research centers introducing eco-friendly practices and relevant innovations. It contributes to the field of sustainable entrepreneurship and the micro-level understanding of micro- and small companies’ reaction to this phenomenon focussing on the furniture industry. It can act as a catalyst toward the development of extensive networking among the furniture sector in both countries, which assists the diffusion of information as well as of a pertinent culture on eco-products and the development of new business models in the sector.
A major contribution is that it can constitute a useful basis for policy makers at governmental and institutional level in both Greece and Cyprus to propose solutions to critical issues such as sector survival, crisis – survival, unemployment, along with environmental care and awareness. It can further encourage close collaborations of companies to academia, design and research centers for the sustainable development of the sector through eco-friendly practices and relevant innovations.
The research is the first to question the significance of eco-conscious strategies for furniture firms at national level in Greece and Cyprus. It seems that it has indirectly contributed to eco-furniture culture development, since it has caused a fruitful brainstorming among sectoral entrepreneurs and offers solutions to the existing “cul-de-sac.”
This research has been co-financed by the European Union (European Social Fund – ESF) and Greek national funds through the Operational Program “Education and Lifelong Learning” of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) – Research Funding Program: ARCHIMEDES III. Investing in knowledge society through the European Social Fund.
This paper is a revised and expanded version of a paper entitled “Green Wooden Furniture. Determination of market trends and tendencies in Greece and Cyprus during economic crisis” by I. Papadopoulos, G. Karagouni, M. Trigkas, and Z. Beltsiou, 2013, 6th Annual International EuroMed Conference, “Confronting Contemporary Business Challenges through Management Innovation,” Estoril, Cascais, Portugal, 23rd-24th September 2013, pp. 1653-1670.
Papadopoulos, I., Karagouni, G., Trigkas, M. and Beltsiou, Z. (2014), "Mainstreaming green product strategies: Why and how furniture companies integrate environmental sustainability?", EuroMed Journal of Business, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 293-317. https://doi.org/10.1108/EMJB-12-2013-0058
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