Sustainability of Small Businesses in Regional South Australia: Interaction with Customers and Suppliers

By Nina Evans and Janet Sawyer.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The sustainability of small businesses in regional Australia is a focus area of the local Economic Development Boards. Small businesses in regional areas face a number of risks, challenges and opportunities. An important aspect of regional small business sustainability is the relationship with its customers and suppliers. Although E-commerce can provide substantial benefits to a business and offer opportunities for trading in a global marketplace, regional businesses often do not realise the value of using the Internet and e-commerce to improve the sustainability of their firms. This paper reports on collaborative research conducted by the University of South Australia (Centre for Regional Engagement) and the Whyalla Economic Development Board (WEDB) that used a stakeholder approach to identify the social responsibility initiatives undertaken by local small retail businesses in Whyalla, specifically with regards to engaging their customers and suppliers. While social responsibility refers to the benefits to groups outside the business (including ‘softer’ aspects such as customer satisfaction and good relationships with suppliers), sustainability refers to the benefits enjoyed by the business itself (such as ease of placing orders with suppliers and sales increases). The researchers concluded that, although many of the businesses in Whyalla understood their responsibility to provide their customers and suppliers with personal and quality service, few of the businesses used the Internet optimally (if at all) to buy, market and sell their products and services. The findings from the research can be used as a basis for providing future support to enhance the sustainability of the firms.

Keywords: Sustainability, Small Business, E-commerce, Internet Usage, Customers and Suppliers, Social and Environmental Responsibility

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.89-102. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.199MB).

Dr. Nina Evans

Associate Head: Teaching and Learning, Computer and Information Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia

Dr. Nina Evans has been an employee of the University of South Australia since 2007, both as a Senior lecturer with the Business and Regional Enterprise Unit and as Associate Head of the School of Computer and Information Science (CIS). Before moving to Australia in 2007 she was Head of the Department of Business Informatics and ICT leadership at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria, South Africa. She was responsible for the general management of the department and was the leader of the research niche area “ICT for business enhancement”. She has undergraduate qualifications in the fields of Engineering, Education and Information Technology (IT), as well as two Masters degrees in IT and Business Administration (MBA) respectively. She completed a PhD in Organisational Behaviour and her research interests are E-business, Entrepreneurial Enterprises, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, Business-IT fusion, Organisational Behaviour and -development, Leadership.

Dr. Janet Sawyer

Head, Business and Regional Enterprise Unit, Business and Regional Enterprise Unit, Centre for Regional Engagement, University of South Australia, Whyalla, SA, Australia

Dr. Janet Sawyer is Head, Business and Regional Enterprise at the Centre of Regional Engagement of the University of South Australia. She is a senior lecturer in accounting and program director of the business programs at the Whyalla Campus and Mount Gambier Regional Centre. Her main area of research is on the links between knowledge of ergonomics, compliance, workplace culture and personal well-being and health in relation to the use of computer technology. Janet's teaching interests include accounting education, accounting for small business and current issues in financial reporting.

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