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The adoption of eco-innovations: a study of SMEs in the Scottish food and drink sector.

Dakup, Karan


Karan Dakup



The increasing government and consumer interest in, and growing concerns about environmental issues have pressured businesses to adopt eco-innovative measures and activities. These pressures have been felt particularly by the food and drink sector in Scotland, a sector that is of considerable importance to the Scottish economy. To date, few studies have considered the challenges businesses in this sector face with regard to the adoption of eco-innovations. In particular, there has been little research on the challenges faced by the SMEs in the sector and how they are adopting eco-innovations. This study seeks to address this research gap through utilization of the diffusion of innovation theory to explore the adoption of eco-innovations by the Scottish food and drink SMEs. A qualitative survey of the website of 52 businesses was used to collect data and analysed using content analysis to generate five categories of eco-innovations namely; Waste, Energy, GSCM, Carbon and Embedding. This data collected informed the next phase of the research where in-depth interviews was conducted with 18 businesses to understand their eco-innovation adoption processes. The findings revealed two groups of attitudes among the participants namely; the positive and the sceptics. The main motivators to adoption were found to be; moral principles and beliefs, eco-consumer drive, cost saving, legislation and the creation of jobs and new opportunities. The major barriers to eco-innovation were more profound and found to include; non-recyclable waste, non-compliance by suppliers, cost of adoption, lack of interest, the challenge of finding credible and reliable sources, attitudes and behaviours, and a general lack of education and awareness. Using the categorisation of eco-innovations that emerged from the website data analysis, the research developed a scale of greenness reflecting the adoption of eco-innovation along with a classification of adopter types namely; advanced, intermediate and basic adopters. The thesis contributes to the theory of diffusion by illustrating ways to capture and evidence innovation adoption without dependency on the time element and enabled a classification of eco- innovation adopters. The contribution to methodology is viewed from the application of a qualitative approach that enabled the categorisation of the forms of eco-innovation which resulted in the model depicting eco-innovation adoption and the profiling tool for innovation diffusion. Practical contributions are offered to enable businesses to understand their adoption of eco-innovation through the use of the model, adopter type classification and the application of a best practice guide to facilitate adoption. Recommendations for policy, practice and further areas for research are also proposed within the thesis.


DAKUP, K. 2018. The adoption of eco-innovations: a study of SMEs in the Scottish food and drink sector. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Sep 3, 2018
Publicly Available Date Sep 3, 2018
Keywords Adoption; Eco innovation; Diffusion of innovation; SMEs; Food and drink; Green; Environmental management
Public URL
Award Date May 31, 2018


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