Firm size and sustainable performance in food supply chains: Insights from Greek SMEs



Bourlakis M, Maglaras G, Aktas E, Gallear D & Fotopoulos C (2014) Firm size and sustainable performance in food supply chains: Insights from Greek SMEs. International Journal of Production Economics, 152, pp. 112-130.

This paper analyses sustainable performance differences within the Greek food supply chain and provides numerous statistical comparisons of its key members (growers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers) with respect to firm size. In an attempt to fill a gap in the relevant literature, we examined micro, small and medium-sized firms against a set of sustainable performance measures and we employed survey research using a sample of 997 firms operating in the Greek food supply chain. Key informants evaluated their firms based on sustainable performance measures (consumption, flexibility, responsiveness, product quality and total supply chain performance). The results were analysed using ANOVA. The findings identify the Greek food supply chain members who over-perform or underperform in relation to size. These include small growers, wholesalers, retailers, medium-sized manufacturers and wholesalers, micro manufacturers and retailers. Specific reasons are provided for these sustainability performance differentials including the role of locality as well as the asset and resource intensity of some operations (e.g. manufacturing). Another key finding relates to small firms which are the top performers in terms of sustainability performance measures especially in the areas of flexibility and responsiveness. Members of this chain also underperform in the product conservation time measure, irrespective of size, and we highlight the urgent need for this to be addressed. Findings of this paper will prove useful for food SMEs and policymakers planning to introduce specific sustainability incentives related to firm size and to the food chain.

Sustainable performance measurement; Food supply chain; Micro; Small and medium-sized enterprises; Firm size; Greece

International Journal of Production Economics: Volume 152

Publication date30/06/2014
Date accepted by journal24/12/2013

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Dr George Maglaras

Dr George Maglaras

Senior Lecturer, Marketing & Retail