A New Zealand and Australian overview of ethics and sustainability in SMEs

  • Eva Collins University of Waikato Management School
  • Carolyn Dickie Curtin University of Technology, School of Management, Perth
  • Paull Weber Curtin University of Technology, School of Management, Perth
Keywords: SMEs, New Zealand, Australia, ethics, sustainability


There is a dearth of research on ethics and sustainability related to SMEs in New Zealand and Australia. This paper begins by giving a definition of SMEs in New Zealand and Australia, which both differ somewhat from international definitions. The role of SMEs in New Zealand and Australian society is discussed and a description of one study in each country covering SMEs and sustainability is presented. Both studies found that owner-managers undertake a number of triple bottom line activities, without overtly identifying these actions as sustainable practice. At the same time, both studies showed that an over-riding focus on the financial bottom-line may be a significant barrier to SMEs adopting further sustainability practices. The paper concludes with a call for additional research in the area of ethical and sustainable business practice in SMEs in Australia and New Zealand, identifying some promising areas of future investigation. 


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