More than profits : supporting small businesses in their pursuit of the triple bottom line
Supporting small businesses in their pursuit of the TBL
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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There is growing recognition of the importance of triple bottom line (TBL) strategies that address economic, social, and environmental impacts. Cities and regions need to respond effectively to the challenges posed by increasing fiscal constraints and environmental degradation. Given their large share of the U.S. economy both in workforce and number of establishments, small businesses are an important part of any TBL solution. More broadly, there is popular interest in sustainability and the triple bottom line, but there is little consensus on how to specifically support such outcomes in small businesses and who should be concerned with their implementation. Small businesses are studied less often than large corporations, and there may be a tendency to underestimate their contributions to social and environmental objectives due to their small scale and limited capacity to publicize their efforts. While support for TBL businesses exist, it varies by provider and many efforts continue to remain localized and small scale without wider regional economic development goals. This thesis investigates a range of perspectives on and experiences with TBL companies. Through interviews with leading TBL small businesses and business assistance providers, I aim to understand the unique challenges TBL small businesses face, the types of assistance they currently seek, how support organizations view the importance of mission driven entrepreneurs, and what opportunities exist to better support them. This research suggests that TBL companies face many of the same challenges as any small business, but that there are also unique challenges related to their TBL focus, namely the complexities of operationalizing and communicating their TBL practices and obtaining information on and influencing their supply chains. Business assistance organizations can play an important role in helping TBL businesses address these challenges as well as expanding the pool of small businesses that think about their environmental and social impact. By highlighting these challenges and opportunities, I hope to assist in identifying how existing organizations might design future research and better support TBL businesses in the process.
Thesis: M.C.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 2014.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 61-63).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.