Network-facilitated green innovation capability development in micro-firms

Sinead Mellett (RIKON Research Group, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland)
Felicity Kelliher (RIKON Research Group, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland)
Denis Harrington (Graduate Business, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Publication date: 19 November 2018



The purpose of this paper is to evaluate key criteria underpinning network-facilitated green innovation capability development in micro-firms.


Micro-firms, those firms with less than ten full-time employees, need to continuously innovate in order to sustain their business in the emerging green economy. This study uses an interpretive multiple case approach to explore micro-firm owner-manager (O/M) green innovation activities, encompassing O/M views on facilitated network engagement in Ireland and Canada over a 12-month period.


The findings show that proactive implementation of green innovation is influenced by the O/M’s natural environment orientation and the potential for economic gain, while facilitated networks provide an additional resource that the O/M can draw from that allows the O/M to test new ideas, comprehend new and existing legislation and identify potential supports in pursuit of green innovation capability development within the micro-firm.

Research limitations/implications

This study offers a contribution to knowledge in the areas of green innovation, micro-firm capabilities and facilitated network engagement. However, the sample size is small and distance was a challenge, yet data and case protocols are in place which allow for replication of the study. As the research is embedded in the resource and capability theories, alternative theoretical frameworks may shed a different light on the research question.


Prior studies have found that facilitated networks have a positive impact on micro-firm sustainability as these networks enhance the firm’s constrained resource base. The proposed framework can be used as a guideline for support organisations including facilitated networks in assisting micro-firms in reaching their green innovation goals and objectives. It can also be used by micro-firms in the attainment of the green innovation capability.



This study has been kindly supported by the Waterford Institute of Technology President’s Scholarship Award.


Mellett, S., Kelliher, F. and Harrington, D. (2018), "Network-facilitated green innovation capability development in micro-firms", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 1004-1024.



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