Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Business Administration: Entrepreneurship
Prospectus: Nigeria Small and Medium Enterprise Sustainability Strategies
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) contribute to economic development and job creation
in Nigeria, but SMEs owners find it challenging to sustain their businesses beyond five years
(Ifekwem & Adedamola, 2016). According to the Small Medium Enterprise Development
Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), the failure rate for SMEs was 80% within the first five years
of inception (Agwu, 2014). The general problem is that SME owners face the challenge of
sustaining their businesses beyond five years, leading to a high rate of business failure. The
specific problem is that some Nigerian SME owners lack strategies to support their
businesses beyond five years.
The purpose of this qualitative multiple case study is to explore the strategies that SME
owners use to sustain their businesses beyond five years. The targeted population comprises
three owners of SMEs in the Western region of Nigeria, who successfully managed their
businesses for over five years. The scholars may use the findings of this research to ensure a
positive social change in society. Various stakeholders may use the results of the study in
creating awareness to the SME owners, teaching them how to improve the economy, and
improving the standard of living of people in the Western region of Nigeria.
Nature of the Study
According to Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2015), there are three types of research
methods: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. In this study, I will use a qualitative
research method to explore sustainability strategies that SME owners used in sustaining their
businesses beyond five years. The qualitative process involves interpreting subjective data
and gives meaning to a given situation (Mohajan, 2018). By using a qualitative method, I
may gain an understanding of the reason behind participants’ behaviors. The quantitative
approach is used to examine the relationship between the dependent and independent
variables; the analysis involves the use of a mathematical structure to support the validity of
the data and interpret the findings (Esfandiari, Riasati, Vaezian, & Rahimi, 2018). A
quantitative method is not suitable for this study because I seek to find an in-depth
understanding of why and how the participants act in their various ways to sustain their
businesses. The mixed-method combines the use of quantitative and qualitative data
collection techniques to explore and examine data collected from the participant's or
organization's records and typically involves a test of hypotheses about variables’ relationship
(Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2015). The mixed-method is not suitable for this study
because the latter does not require examination of the relationships among variables.
Qualitative designs in research include ethnography, phenomenological, and case study
(Gelling, 2015). The ethnographic research design provides data about the understanding of
ordinary life in a given culture, subculture, or group of people living in special conditions
(Gergen & Gergen, 2018). Researchers use the ethnography design to study a cultural group’s
beliefs and cultural interactions (Gelling, 2015). The ethnography design is not suitable for
this study because of its emphasis on the culture of the phenomenon. Researchers also use the
phenomenological model to study the meaning of participants’ lived experiences with a
current event (Alfakhri, Harness, Nicholson, & Harness, 2018). Phenomenological design is
not suitable for this research study because the meanings of participants’ lived experiences
with a phenomenon are not the focus of this study.
Using a case study design allows a researcher to probe through open-ended questions and
gather data that would give a holistic view of the phenomenon (Marshall & Rossman, 2015).
A case study design is suitable for this study to explore the sustainable strategies that the
SMEs in the Western region of Nigeria use in sustaining their businesses beyond five years.
What strategies do SME owners use in sustaining their businesses beyond five years?
1. How would you describe your sustainability strategies?
2. How did you implement your sustainability strategies?
3. Based on your experiences, what sustainability strategies have impacted your business
4. What were the key challenges you faced to implement your sustainability strategies?
5. How did you address the key challenges to sustain your business?
6. What additional information would you like to share your strategies in sustaining your
business beyond five years?
Stakeholder theory provides the conceptual framework for this research study.
Edward Freeman postulated stakeholder theory in 1984. Freeman (1984) argued that the
shareholders are not the only stakeholder in an organization. Anyone who has a stake or
interest in the organization is a stakeholder; these include managers, employees, customers,
suppliers, government, community, among others (Miles, 2017).
Slabbert (2016) demonstrated the impact of the relationship between internal and external
stakeholders in building the corporate image of an organization. According to Freeman
(1984), managers should manage the affairs of the organization in the interest of all the key
stakeholders to achieve the organizational goals. I expect to use stakeholder theory as a lens
to view the study to explore the strategies of meeting the needs of stakeholders in adopting a
sustainability strategy for the success of a business organization.
Miller (2016) posited that managers are responsible for the interest of all stakeholders in and
out of the organization, and concluded that corporate social responsibility to the community
and care for the environment influence the profitability of the organization (Dinsmore, 2014;
Gibbon, 2015). Humphrey (2017) argued that empowering employees and creating teamwork
motivates them to add more value to the organization by building good relationships with
customers, earning their loyalty that positively impacts the profitability of the organization.
Makani (2017) found that employee training and effective communication among
stakeholders also enhance customer loyalty. Abolade (2018) also indicated that employee
engagement could reduce job insecurity and employee turnover rate in an organization. The
incorporation of stakeholder theory as the conceptual framework of the research study is to
understand the strategies the managers used to meet key stakeholders’ needs for achieving the
sustainability of their organizations.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR): Corporate social responsibility is the organization’s
role in dealing with the social issues that affect the people in the area where the company
operates (Coppola & Lanuario, 2017).
Entrepreneur: Entrepreneur is someone at the center of business entity creation and its
growth (Byungku, 2019).
Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is the vehicle to economic development and societal
transformation (Dhahri, & Anis, 2018; Lee, 2019).
Small and medium enterprise (SME): Small and medium enterprise is an enterprise with the
number of employees ranging between 10 -199 employees (SMEDAN, 2013).
SME Owner: SME owner is an entrepreneur with employee capacity between 10-199
employees, and involved in the day to day business transaction with the aim of profit (Ji,
Dimitarous, Huang, & Su, 2019).
Stakeholders: Stakeholders are a group of people who affects or are affected by the outcome
of the operations of an organization (Rajhans, 2018; Souza Neto, & Borges, 2019). The
stakeholders include employees, customers, suppliers, community, and government.
Sustainability: Sustainability is the concept that explains the capacity of an organization to
exist over a long period and be resistance to factors that can affect its growth, performance,
and strategies (Meflinda, Mahyarni, Indrayani, & Wulandari, 2018).
Sustainability Strategies: Sustainability strategies are the strategies imbibe by an organization
that focuses on the economic, social, and environmental development in society (Garg,
Assumption, Limitation, and Delimitation
The researcher’s hypothesis forms the bases of the study (Lips-Wiersma & Mills, 2013).
Researcher perceived the premises of the study has been true otherwise lack authentic
evidence (Ellis & Levy, 2009). In this study, I assumed a qualitative research method and
case study research design are appropriate to explore the sustainability strategies used by
Nigeria SME owners to sustain their businesses beyond five years. I also assumed the
participants will not be biased and are honest in answering the interview questions. I will
even think that the selected participants know about the topic under investigation. I assume
that the participants represent the population of SME owners in Nigeria. Lastly, I assumed the
interview questions are related to the study and are enough for data saturation in the research
Limitations of a study are those factors or variables that the researcher does not have power
over in the study. To ensure credibility and accuracy, a researcher needs to identify the
limitation of the study (Yin, 2018). According to Connelly (2013), limitation focused
commonly on the internal and external validity of a review; it helps the researcher to identify
the strength and weaknesses of the study; and how to apply the findings of the study. One of
the limitations of the study is the restriction to the Western region of Nigeria; therefore, the
review cannot be generalized for the entire country. Another limitation is the respondent's
emotional status during the interview, which could affect the data collection and the integrity
of the result. The participants may not want to disclose or forget some of their success or
failure factors which is a limitation to this study
Delimitations define the scope and boundaries of the survey (Ellis & Levy, 2009). It enables
the reader and the researcher to understand the scope of the study and its implication. I will
delimit the participants of this study to SME owners that have sustained their businesses
beyond five years in the Western region of Nigeria. The interview questions id bound to 8
interview questions for data collection, and the data will be collected based on the highlighted
items for the interview.
The Significance of the Study
In this study, I will explore sustainability strategies that SME owners employ for the
sustainability of their businesses beyond five years. According to the Small Medium
Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria, the failure rate for SMEs was 80% within the
first five years of the establishment (Agwu, 2014; Akinso, 2018). The value gathered from
this study could be a significant contribution to create awareness for SME owners on other
means to increase the profitability of the business, reduce the cost of hiring and firing, and
enhance the sustainability of small and medium enterprises. The study’s findings could also
be of significance catalyzing social change through enabling organizations to affect the lives
of the stakeholders and their communities positively.
Contribution to Business Practice
Sustainability strategies reflect strategies that focus on businesses’ economic, social, and
environmental development (Garg, 2017). Developing and deploying the strategies enable
organizations to create long-term value for key stakeholders who include employees,
shareholders, customers, government, and communities (Matzembache & Meira, 2019).
Small and medium enterprises also have stakeholders, and the knowledge of sustainable
strategies could enhance the sustainability of SMEs beyond five years.
An employee as a stakeholder in an organization could make valuable contributions to the
organization’s success (Vorina, Simonič, & Vlasova, 2017). According to Yung and Lee
(2018), promoting an environmentally friendly operation shows that a given organization is
passionate about improving the lives of the people. Procter and Gamble is one company that
is passionate about the community where it operates (Nina, Holodar, Guzman, & Pollack,
2017). The knowledge of sustainable strategies could enable the organization to reduce
employee turnover and enhance productivity; protect their environment; and promote
customer loyalty for increasing profitability (Albrecht, Breidahl, & Marty, 2017; Hildebrand,
Demotta, Sen, & Valenzuela, 2017; Yung & Lee, 2018)
Implications for Social Change
The findings of this study could provide awareness for the advantage of developing
sustainability strategies for SMEs. The sustainability of SMEs could enable existing
employees in the organization to retain their jobs, create more jobs for people, thereby
reducing the rate of unemployment in Nigeria (Albrecht, Breidahl, & Marty, 2017). The
implication for social change from the study may contribute to the organization’s ability to
perform corporate social responsibility.
Role of the Researcher
As the researcher, for a case study, I will assume the role of a data collection instrument.
Approaching participants and building a relationship with them to gain their trust is part of
the role of being the data collection instrument (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2015). I will
collect data from the participants using semistructured interviews with open-ended questions
until I reach data saturation. Data saturation refers to the situation where there is no new data
from the interviews (Moser & Korstjens, 2018). I will send a sample of interview questions
and the research question with the invitation letter to the participants to make them ready for
the interview. I will follow the interview protocol to avoid any form of bias for the reliability
of the study (Noman, Awang Hashim, & Shaik Abdullah, 2018). I will use a recorder to
record the responses from the participants and also take notes during the interview.
I run a small-sized business, and I see how small and medium-sized enterprises struggle with
the sustainability of their companies before their 5th anniversary. To mitigate bias, I will
select participants that are not in the same industry as me. In qualitative research, a researcher
interacts with the participant to collect data for the study (Moser, & Korstjens, 2018), I will
communicate with the participants physically and by email to prepare the participants for the
As a researcher, it is my role to seek the consent of the participants for the study, protect the
participants’ identity, and ensure confidentiality (LeCroix, Goodrum, Hufstetler, &
Armistead, 2017; Surmiak, 2018). According to the Belmont Report, the researcher should
seek the consent of the participant, maintain the confidentiality of the participants, and
respect participants (Van den Hoonaard, 2018). I will request participants to sign a consent
form, the participant that accept to participate in the study would sign the consent form,
which makes them eligible as a participant in the study. I will also accord the participants
their due respect and make them comfortable during the interview session. For the
participants to remain anonymous, I will represent the participants by using an alphanumeric
symbol like P1, P2, to describe the participants. I will inform the participants that all the
information they will provide would remain confidential and that they are at liberty to
withdraw from the study at any time.
To avoid bias and viewing data through a personal lens, I will use my interview questions and
follow the interview protocol to ensure that I follow the steps in the contract. I will also
rehearse the interview questions to get used to the questions and how to comport myself
during the interview session. According to Yin (2018), in qualitative research, a semi-
structured interview is used for data collection. To avoid bias, for my data collection, I will
record and take notes during the interview session and avoid controlling the participants’
reactions. The interview will be a semi-structured interview supported by archival
documents. The interview questions will guide the semi-structured interview and allow me to
probe the participant to get more information on the phenomenon. According to Leedy and
Ormrod (2013), mitigating bias and engaging in judgment are essential steps in studying a
business phenomenon. To reduce error and prejudice, I will base decisions and analyses only
on evidence gathered on the event. I will transcribe the data collected with the use of NVivo
software. I will also use NVivo software for the analysis process of my data to present a
result that is without any bias.
An interview protocol is pertinent in qualitative research. In qualitative research, the
researcher is an instrument of data collection. The researcher also has a relationship with the
topic under study; this point that the researcher could be bias during data collection. The use
of interview protocol would guide the researcher on the steps to follow to avoid personal bias
during data collection and to collect comprehensive data with the time allocated (Yeong,
Rosnah, Hassim, & Isa, 2018). According to the interview protocol, I will use the interview
questions and follow-up questions during the data collection until I reach data saturation on
A Review of the Professional and Academic Literature
The purpose of the multiple case studies is to explore the sustainability strategies small and
medium enterprises (SMEs) owners in the western part of Nigeria used to sustain theirs
beyond five years. The review of the professional literature is critical because it helps in
understanding what the other researchers have recorded about the research questions studied
in the current study. It is essential to select stakeholder’s theory as the framework of the
study. The strategies that are used by small and medium enterprises are critical for their
success. I will be interviewing five SME owners that have succeeded in sustaining their
business beyond five years. To provide academic and professional support to this study, a
review of the work of other researchers related to SMEs and stakeholder theory is imperative.
The review of professional and academic literature is a component of a doctoral study
(Walden University, 2019). These are studies of other researchers in the field of interest of a
new researcher. This aspect reveals what other researchers had written on the phenomenon or
related areas as linked to the study. The literature review includes articles from different
researchers that are peer-reviewed; it examines the various aspects of small and medium
enterprises that relate to the sustainability of SMEs. These literature are relevant to what
SMEs are, and the impacts on people, the society, and the economy; the challenges of
managing SMEs; the failure and success of SMEs; among others.
For this study, stakeholder theory is the conceptual framework that I will use to explore
sustainability strategies used by owners of small and medium enterprises to sustain their
businesses. Stakeholder theory explains and presents the stakeholders of a business entity and
their impacts on the success of any business organization. This study explores how the
stakeholder theory relates to SME stakeholders for the success of SMEs.
Methods of Reviewing the Literature
A thorough review of literature enables the researcher to review all the works of another
researcher in the field of study and to avoid working on what other researchers had done. To
review the literature thoroughly, I searched for the work of others on the sustainability or
success of SMEs in Nigeria and other different countries that cover areas of their challenges,
impacts, failure, success, and sustainability. These are the work of researchers in Nigeria and
other parts of the world. The review of the literature involves researching articles and
journals to gain an in-depth knowledge of SMEs, the owners of SMEs, and the stakeholder
theory that I will use as the conceptual framework of the study.
The literature review includes 130 peers reviewed journals, four books, two government
websites, and six dissertations. I reviewed a total number of 140 papers, with 88% articles
published in or after 2015. The database that I used includes the Emerald management
journal, ABI-INFORM Complete (ProQuest), ScienceDirect, Directory of Open Access
Journal, Government databases SMEDAN and NBS, and Google Scholar. The database
searches include different combination of words such as small and medium enterprises, SMEs
and employment, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, corporate social
responsibility, stakeholders and organization, SME in Nigeria, impact of SMEs, challenges of
SMEs, SMEs and finance, stakeholder theory, SMEs owners, SMEs and the economy,
leadership, small and medium enterprises in Nigeria, SMEDAN, and NBA.
Methods of analyzing the literature
I reviewed the literature related to the study and group the articles based on the research
themes. First, I defined the relevance and the ideology of stakeholder theory to the study,
explained how the theory is relevant to explore Nigeria's small and medium enterprises'
sustainability, and the influence of stakeholders in the organization. Secondly, I reviewed the
relevance of SMEs and what it entails in the following themes: (a) small and medium
enterprises; (b) small and medium enterprises owners; impact of small and medium
enterprises to the people, in the society, and to the economy; perceived challenges faced by
small and medium enterprises; (c) perceived failure rate of small and medium enterprises;
perceived success of small and medium enterprises; and sustainability of small and medium
enterprises. These the heading of the literature review, some of the headings have sub-
heading, all were synthesized to give meaning small and medium enterprise, its impact on the
society and the importance of its sustainability.
The relevance of theories and frameworks
Freedman conceptualized stakeholder theory in 1984, which is all those having a stake in a
business entity as stakeholders of the organization. Stakeholders include managers,
employees, customers, suppliers, bankers, government, and the community. Stakeholder
theory guides the manager to oversee the interest of all the stakeholders in the organization
and not only the benefit of the shareholder. Scholars have further developed stakeholder
theory to consider the norms, morals, ethics, and standards of relating to the stakeholders
(Jones, Harrison, & Felps, 2018; Wick & Freeman, 1998). Although, integrating moral and
economically sound decisions in the interest of all the stakeholders without affecting the
bottom line of the organization has been challenging (Freeman, Harrison Wicks, Parmar, &
de Colle, 2010). To this end, Jones (1995) came up with instrumental stakeholder theory to
synthesized stakeholder theory, economic theory, behavioral science, and ethics. The authors
argued that managers could liaise with their stakeholders on mutual trust to convert
economically minded strategy to stakeholder’s thinking strategy to increase their competitive
advantage that would enhance their sustainability. Jones et al. (2018) demonstrated the
integration of ethics into the stakeholder theory for the competitive advantage of an
organization. Other scholars identified the stakeholders and used it to validate the importance
of stakeholders in an organization and how they impact the organization success and
sustainability (Lee, Idris, and Delfabbro, 2017; Prasadh, 2018; Yadav, Agrawal, Khandelwal,
& Tripath, 2018; Yung, & Lee, 2018).
An organization could enhance its sustainability by harnessing the values of each stakeholder,
which is of significant importance to an organization. The sustainability strategy, with the
focus on the stakeholders, identifies the key stakeholders in an organization and their impact
on the success of the organization. Employees are valuable resources to an organization when
engaged in innovation, planning, and decision-making (Schilpzand, Houston, & Cho, 2018).
Employee motivation and a positive work environment provide comfort for the employees,
increasing employee morale, resulting in increased employee productivity at work, increased
the financial performance and sustainability of the organization (Ružić and Benazić, 2018).
Customers are another key stakeholder in the organization. Customer satisfaction and loyalty
is a priority of an organization, leading to increased patronage of customers and marketing of
the organization through referrals to their friends, acquaintances, and families (Pai, ko, &
Santos, 2019). The business community is another key stakeholder. Organization provide
social and environmental support to the cities, these could be in the form of support to the
government on social amenities such as right road, water supply, provision of schools, and
green energy, which is beneficial to the citizens of the community, and in the long run, add
economic value to the organization (Hoi, Wu, & Zhang, 2018). An organization that deploys
strategies that add value to critical stakeholders also benefit long-term relationship with
stakeholders enhancing the sustainability of the organization (Matzembacher, & Meira, 2019;
Nina, Holodar, Guzman, & Pollack, 2017).
The various stakeholders of an organization affect the operations of an organization in
different ways (Freeman, 1984; Rajhans, 2018). However, some stakeholders are critical to
the services of a business organization than the others. The employees, customers,
government, and community are the key stakeholders identified in this study.
Stakeholder’s theory is relevant to this study as it is used by researchers to identify the key
stakeholders in an organization and the sustainability strategies deployed by the leaders of the
organization, which encompasses economic, social, and environmental values in the policy of
an organization. Sustainability strategy adopted by an organization, take into consideration
the impact of the organization in giving economic, social, and environmental values to the
stakeholders of the organization (Garg, 2017).
What are SMEs?
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are firms that have 10-199 employees (SMEDAN,
2013). These are business enterprises owned by the individual to create values, which include
economic, social, and environmental benefits (James et al., 2018; Pinkovetskaia, Nikitina, &
Gromova, 2018). These values enhance the economic growth of the nation, reduce poverty,
and reduce unemployment (Fatoki, 2018). In most economies, the small and medium
enterprises spring up, and with their business activities, improving the lives of the people and
the society (Jacinto, & Du Preez, 2018).
According to Miranda & Miranda (2018), SMEs are the pillars of economic development and
the empowerment of communities. SMEs create activities and engagement for institutions
such as finance, marketing, and supply chain by way of their business transactions. Bello,
Jubril, and Ahmed (2018) mentioned that SMEs as the ingredient for industrial development
in a developing economy. Setting up small and medium manufacturing businesses could be
through art, such as painting, bag making, shoemaking, and clothing with the use of locally
sourced materials. Besides, it could be food manufacturing from local produces that could
reduce the dependence on imported foods and increase the consumption of locally made
products to boost the economy of the country. These business activities generate revenue for
the organizations and government from taxes generated from these organizations. These
chains of events and a couple of others made by SMEs boost the economy, create social
values, and cause environmental development of a nation (Fatoki, 2018).
Small and medium enterprise owners are entrepreneurs that are sensitive to their environment
to see opportunities or challenges that can be turned around to make a difference for
economic and social benefits (Miller & Le Breton-Miller, 2017; Rey-Martí, Ribeiro-Soriano,
& Sánchez-García, 2016). The enterprises are born out of creativity and innovations of the
owners (Guo, 2018), its economic and social activities include source of revenue for the
government, reduction of unemployment, and improving the standard of living of the citizens
(Jang, 2018; Pașnicu, 2018; Rusu, & Roman, 2017). SME owners are people with minimal
capacity to source for resources needed for the business, the lack of resources includes,
financial and human resources. The owners usually set up the store with little capital from
individual savings, financial support from family, friends, and acquittances (Song, Lu, & Yu,
2017; van Klyton, & Rutabayiro-Ngoga, 2017).
Nwugballa, Elom, & Onyeizugbe (2016) noted the fact that a consensus has not been reached
as to what the SMEs are in the economy. The people are, therefore, coming up with some
definitions that are aimed at making the learners have information about the SMEs. However,
according to the author, the Nigerian government describes an SME as a business
organization that has assets that are lower than 5 million nairas excluding the lands and the
buildings and has 10- 48 employees. An understanding of what constitutes the SMEs is
essential in their classification and ensuring that they are well studied and structured to ensure
that they are relevant in the society and that they can provide the necessary support to the
The relevance of Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs)
The importance of SME refers to the contribution that the firms make to the economic, social,
and environmental values in a society. This study explains SMEs, SME owners, the impact of
SMEs in the community and to the people. For one to understand the relevance of SMEs in
the market and society, it is essential to understand what they are and how they function in
society. According to Olorunshola (2019), SMEs in Nigeria are significant contributors to the
national job creation and employment and that most of them have employed a considerable
number of citizens of the country. According to the author, SMEs face a myriad of challenges
that makes it hard for them to operate comfortably in the country. One of the most significant
challenge according to Olorunshola (2019) is that some of the owners of the smaller
businesses do not have the skills that are required to ensure that the company is sustainable
and survives for a long time and that is why a good number of the SMEs fail after they have
been started. Some of the strategies that have been noted by Olorunshola (2019) include
securing the necessary finances, provision of the required customer service and having the
ability to respond appropriately to the measures that have been put in place by the
government. The author notes that having sustainable SMEs is essential because it plays a
vital role in the improvement of the economy as a whole.
Nwugballa, Elom, & Onyeizugbe (2016) gives information about the relevance of SMEs in
the economy. The author notes that SMEs nurture employment opportunities and create
employment opportunities that will improve the economy of Nigeria. It is therefore right to
say that the SMEs are essential because they promote the economy. People require
employment opportunities to make a living. The author also notes the fact that SMEs are
critical because they provide the necessary goods and services to the consumers in the
society, and in so doing, they make sure to meet the demand of the people in the market for
the benefit of the community.
According to Nwugballa, Elom, & Onyeizugbe (2016), the MSMEs contribute to up to 55%
of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Nigeria. He also notes the fact that the sector
contributes up to 75% of the total employment rate in Nigeria. According to the author, the
MSMEs in Nigeria find it hard to contribute effectively to the economy because of the
challenges that they face in the marketplace. It is, therefore, essential to look for ways of
dealing with all the problems to the benefit of society. The challenges that are being faced by
the SMEs in Nigeria include poor infrastructure, lack of access to affordable finance, and lack
of entrepreneurial education that will help them manage the businesses effectively. The other
challenges that are noted by the author include the high operating costs in the country, lack of
business knowledge, skills and attitudes, marketing as well as the government policies.
According to Ibrahim & Mohd Shariff (2017), the performance of the SMEs is below
expectations because they do not contribute to the economy as they ought to because of the
challenges that they face. Ibrahim & Mohd Shariff (2017) note other issues that lead to the
dismal performance of the SMEs. Some of the problems that he addresses include a lack of
management skills lack of access to modern technology that could revolutionize the process
of producing goods and services. The author notes that it is essential to ensure that SMEs
have access to the necessary resources that will promote the business.
SMEs are also relevant because they take part in corporate social responsibility (CSR) that is
important in promoting the social welfare of the people in the country through the promotion
of education, provision of clean water to drink, development of the talents, among many
other things in the society. The commitment of the SMEs in taking part of the corporate
social responsibility is also important because it puts the business in good books with the
people in the country (Gorondutse & Hilman, 2016). Most of the SMEs in Nigeria use CSR
as a business strategy to attract clients and to ensure that they remain relevant in society. The
SMEs in the emerging markets are different from the ones that are found in the already
established markets due to the fact that the former uses the corporate social responsibility as a
strategy to carry out the businesses whereas the latter embarks on the corporate social
responsibility due to the fact that they are passionate about helping the society (Gorondutse &
Impact of Small and Medium Enterprises to the stakeholders
The stakeholders in any business enterprise include the management, the employees, the
clients, and the shareholders. The business, therefore, operates intending to meet the needs of
all the stakeholders in society. A business entity cannot exist without involving the people,
even with the advent of technology and its advancement in artificial intelligence, the human
factor is essential. Human beings are necessary for the existence and success of a business
organization. The creative idea and innovation of setting up a business entity emanate from
an entrepreneur who, in the context of this study, is an SME owner. An SME owner needs
people who are employees to engage and share ideas with to achieve the objective of setting
up the business entity (Li, Wang, Van Jaarsveld, Lee, & Ma, 2018), the product produced or
service delivery would need people to either transfer it to consumer or consume it, which
make the people imperative in the existence of a business entity. In a business organization,
human resources management is the aspect of management that manages the employees;
these are the people behind the activities or operations in the organization. For a sustainable
business organization and economic development, entrepreneurship needs to include
industrial generation and the need for individuals. The integration of entrepreneurship,
leadership, and human resources and its proper implementation leads to wealth and job
creation for the economy and the people (Kim, ElTarabishy, & Bae, 2018).
The employees need to be motivated accordingly as a way of making sure that they perform
in the organization. Hakimian, Farid, Ismail, & Nair (2016) assess the importance of
commitment among the employees when it comes to ensuring the innovative behavior among
the employees. The creative act is crucial because it enables the SMEs to perform
exceptionally in the market, and in so doing the manufacture of the products and services as
well as the delivery of services is done in the best way possible which is essential to both the
business and the society as a whole. Hakimian, Farid, Ismail, & Nair (2016) also note the fact
that the companies require to get the best from their human resources. The authors also note
the fact that it is essential for human resources to be innovative and to ensure that they are
using their creativity for the benefit of society. Hakimian, Farid, Ismail, & Nair (2016), in
their research, came to the conclusion that the innovative behavior among the employees in
the organization comes from the commitment that they have as far as the business enterprise
Employees hold an important and critical position in an organization. They are the
organization interface with the customers, especially the frontline employees; they are the
link between the customers and the management of the organization. How employees
perceive the work environment affects their satisfaction on the job and their commitment
(Marques, Leal, Marques, & Cabral, 2018). Employers could achieve employee job
satisfaction by creating a warm working environment, emotional intelligence, employee
engagement, and teamwork (Feyerabend, Herd, &Choi, 2018; Gander, Ruch, Platt, Hofmann
& Elmer, 2018; Mahipalan & Sheena, 2018). Job satisfaction reduces employee intention to
leave and put them in the right frame of mind to serve the customers (Feyerabend, Herd,
&Choi, 2018). When employees are satisfied with their job, they become more productive,
which increase the productivity of the organization. Creating these values for the people is
one of the ways SMEs add value to the people inside and outside the organization. Job
satisfaction is also likely to cause the employees to be committed to the work and the
business, and in so doing, they will do their best to ensure that they achieve the goals that the
company has put in place for the benefit of the society. Innovation among the employees
ensures that several tasks are performed in the best way possible and that success has been
The employees in the business organization have the role of ensuring that they meet the
expectations of all the stakeholders. Their innovation will play an essential role in ensuring
that they meet the expectations of the stakeholders. Through the provision of high-quality
goods and services, the employees will have met the expectations of the client. When the
clients are happy with the work that has been done, they tend to introduce their family and
friends to the brand, and that is how businesses increase the number of clients that they have
and hence increasing the sales that they make (Hakimian, Farid, Ismail, & Nair, 2016). The
increase in the number of transactions will, in turn, lead to a rise in revenue and subsequently
increase the profits that the company makes. The management of the company will, therefore,
be happy because the amount of benefits has improved. The increase in the revenue and the
profit is significant because it makes the company attract the investors, and if they are
available, then they will witness the growth of the business and an increase in the value of the
money that they invested in the market.
Impact of small and medium enterprises in society
Small and medium enterprises are a source of empowering the rural and urban communities.
In the agricultural community, it helps in developing the rural economy and improves the
lives of rural settlers (Miranda & Miranda, 2018). However, some variables are imperative
for SMEs to establish these impacts. According to Miranda and Miranda (2018), SMEs
variable such as owners’ structure, communication system, and networking is significant in
rural community empowerment. SMEs owners might face challenges in sustaining their
businesses if these variables are not well guided and would affect rural community
empowerment. Also, Masama and Bruwer (2018) explained that SMEs are important in the
development of urban settlement and the economy. However, SMEs owners in urban
communities find it challenging to sustain their businesses over a period. The factors that
adversely affect them are micro and macroeconomic factors such as lack of finance, lack of
management skills, lack of infrastructure, and a high cost of electricity.
The economic and social impacts of SMEs in a society are the impacts that affect the
revenue generation in the community, equalizing income distribution and its contribution to
the Gross Domestic Product (Low, Ong, & Tan, 2017). It reduces the rate of unemployment
in the society by creating jobs for the people, which has a ripple effect in reducing crime rate
for a friendly and safe community for the people (Stępniak-Kucharska, 2016). The creating of
jobs also enables the people to meet their social obligations to their family and add social
values to the community.
Most SMEs get their resources locally from their country, which increases the total monetary
value of goods produced within the country (Van Scheers, 2016). Also, there is an
opportunity of export for locally made products to the international market where these
products are needed (Chong, Hoekstra, Lemmers, Van Beveren, Van Den Berg, Van Der
Wal, & Verbiest, 2019). The fact that they purchase their resources locally, therefore, means
that they improve the market of the locally produced raw materials, which is a situation that
enhances the economy as a whole for the benefit of the society. The SMEs also provide
goods and services that will be consumed by the people in the community (Chong, Hoekstra,
Lemmers, Van Beveren, Van Den Berg, Van Der Wal, & Verbiest, 2019). It is, therefore,
essential to promote SMEs due to the vital role which they play in society. The goods and
services that are provided by the SMEs help the people in the community to satisfy the needs
that they have which are very important as it ensures that the people in the society live
comfortable lives (Chong, Hoekstra, Lemmers, Van Beveren, Van Den Berg, Van Der Wal,
& Verbiest, 2019).
SMEs also provide employment opportunities to the people in the society, and in so doing,
they improve the economy in the process. The improvement in the performance of the SMEs
is what determines the number of employees that they will hire. It, therefore, means that the
performance of the firms is directly proportional to the number of employment opportunities
that the firm creates. The increase in the name of employment opportunities will, therefore,
make the organization to promote the economy of the society. SMEs, therefore, play an
essential role in the savings. The management of the SMEs, therefore, has to ensure that the
SMEs improve the innovative aspects and the knowledge of the SMEs as a way of ensuring
that the organizations are well placed to provide the much-needed opportunities in the
society. Innovation is the key to competitiveness, which will improve the performance of the
SMEs, which will make them able to provide high-quality goods and services to the people as
well as the employment opportunities that will enhance the economy of the society (Aksoy,
2017). The innovative ability of a given organization is, therefore, crucial because it has the
potential of making the employee work best for the benefit of both the SME and the society
as a whole.
Perceived Challenges faced by small and medium enterprises
Small and medium enterprises face diverse challenges that hamper their sustainability. Being
a business enterprise run as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability with the
limited fund, the enterprises face a massive challenge in funding. Some of these enterprises
are founded by people who wanted to try business on their own because they could not get a
job, thereby lack leadership skills to manage the organization when it is set up. SMEs are
enterprises with small capacity when compare to a large corporation. Therefore, most of the
SMEs could not afford to pay high salaries like the large corporation, which makes them look
at unskilled labor. These challenges and others affect the operation, management, and
performance of SMEs (EZEAGBA, 2017).
EZEAGBA (2017) notes that SMEs have financial problems because they lack adequate
financial management. Most of them, according to the author, lack the proper books of
accounts and records that are important in making sure that the organization accounts for all
the money that they spend. The result is, therefore, unnecessary spending that leads to the
company not meeting the financial needs that they have. The other problem that SMEs face is
an inadequate workforce that leads to dismal performance in the tasks that they have in the
workplace. EZEAGBA (2017) also addresses the fact that SMEs lack adequate financial
resources lead to the companies lacking the necessary financial resources that will enable the
success of the businesses. The other challenge that faces SMEs, according to the author, is the
lack of an accounting system. It, therefore, means that the companies are not able to spot any
foul play in the financial order of the businesses. The businesses can, thus, collapse as a result
of poor financial management. The fact that SMEs do not pass their financial transactions
through is a limitation that limits the business from accessing the financial aid that is offered
by different banking institutions. EZEAGBA (2017), therefore, recommends that the SMEs
invest in financial management if they have to deal with the challenge of inadequate finances
that affect their performance.
The SMEs in Nigeria and around the world have a challenge in their operations because of
the inadequate leadership skills among the management of the organization. SME owners
have a huge role to play in the sustainability of their business. A business owner or top
management of an organization’s capacity to manage an organization goes a long way to
determine the viability of an organization (Runping, 2018). Owners need effectuation and
causation strategy to run a small and medium enterprise or a new venture for sustainability
(Runping, 2018). The business environment is dynamic and competitive, which requires the
entrepreneur’s alertness to the changes that could guide the entrepreneur in decision-making.
An entrepreneur could make some changes in the organization using a leadership style that
would enable the employees to adapt to the changes in the organization and business
environment for sustainability. The entrepreneur is supposed to manage their organizations
effectively. They are supposed to be aware of the decisions that they are supposed to take at a
given point in time. The entrepreneurs are also supposed to know what to do in the case
where the competition intensifies in the market. They are also supposed to have the necessary
financial management skills that will help them in the proper management of the finances
(Prentice & Zeng, 2018; Prosperi, Kirwan, Maye, Bartolini, & Vergamini, 2019).
EZEAGBA (2017) notes that the significant challenge that affects the SMEs is inadequate
leadership. The leadership style incorporated into the organization influences the
organization's performance. Leadership in an organization could have a positive and negative
impact on the organization. A transformational leadership style motivates the employees and
encourages them to do more than they can imagine of themselves (Northouse, 2016).
However, an organization with an abusive leadership approach de-motivates the employees
and threatens their jobs that lead to employee turnover and reduced human capital. The high
turnover among the employees is caused by poor leadership (Abolade, 2018; Barnes &
Spangenburg, 2018). A leader that is not aware of the decisions to take at a given point in
time will lead to the underperformance of the organization, and in so doing, the performance
of the company will be affected in the process. It should be noted that the performance of the
SMEs is directly related to the skills and professionalism in the leadership.
Additionally, human capital enhances employees’ performance and organization
performance. The organizations and businesses that have adequate human capital have high
chances of succeeding as opposed to the ones that do not have (Muafi, Suwitho,
Purwohandoko, & Imanirrahma, 2017). Therefore, employees should be motivated to
increase their performance, human capital, and organization performance. The challenge of
the SMEs getting employees, therefore, affects the operations of the organization or business.
A leadership position is a good position; a leader stirs the wheel and progress of the
organization. The leadership ideology of product or service innovation and creativity
influence the employees and determine the growth and sustainability of the organization
(Ayranci & E. Ayranci, 2015). The leaders need to possess the required skills to manage an
organization successfully (Dunne, Aaron, McDowell, Urban, & Geho, 2016; Mohsin, Halim,
Ahmad, & Farhana, 2017).
The owners and managers of SMEs need knowledge acquisition to manage the organization
successfully (Kim, Song, & Sambamurthy, 2012). The business incubator is one of such
support by the government, where tenants selected for the tutoring gathered knowledge to
manage their organizations. Business incubators are institutes formed by the government to
promote entrepreneurship in the community and support them to grow (Ayatse, Kwahar, &
Iyortsuun, 2017; Iyortsuun, 2017). He, Standen, & Coetzer (2017) gives information on the
perceived personal characteristics of the entrepreneurial leaders. One notable thing that the
authors address is the fact that the field of entrepreneurial leadership has been neglected by
the researchers in such a way that it is not well discussed in the literature. The less attention is
perceived to be the reason why there is a leadership gap among the SMEs, a situation that
affects their performance negatively. However, there is some hope since the field has started
attracting the attention of the leading scholars. According to He, Standen, & Coetzer (2017),
the leadership in the business organization plays a vital role in the growth of the venture and
the overall success of the enterprises. The authors also note that the area requires more
research and attention because it is essential in the success of the business organization.
Appropriate leadership styles and Quality of Work Life (QWL) are critical factors in the
success of the enterprise. The fact that many SMEs have problems with the leadership means
that their performance is likely to be dismal because the employees will be working with no
definite direction (Nanjundeswaraswamy & Swamy D R, 2015).
SMEs also face the challenge of competition from the other established brands in the market.
The SMEs will, therefore, struggle as they attempt to get a share of the clients in the market.
The established brands tend to take up the lion share of the clients in the market effortlessly.
Ngatno (2016) assessed the relationship between social networks, entrepreneurial orientation,
and the performance of small and medium enterprises in Nigeria. The author gives
information on the importance of competitive advantage in the SMEs. He notes the fact that
the significant challenge that the SMEs face in the market is their inability to match up the
competition that we presented by the already established business organizations in the
market. The business organizations, therefore, need to come up with ways of getting the
much-coveted competitive advantage that will lead to the success of the organization. SMEs
may gain competitive advantage by getting into mergers that will help them get enough
capital that will enable them to provide high-quality services to the clients (Ngatno, 2016).
Inadequate Financial capacity is also a challenge that the SMEs have to grapple with as they
try their best to serve the clients in the market. SMEs contribute to the growth and
development of the country (Abbas, wang, & Alsakarneh, 2018). The author also notes the
fact that it is impossible for SMEs to meet the demand of the clients in the market if they do
not have the necessary finances. The production process requires capital, which most of the
SMEs do not have access to. The management is forced to use the small amount of money
that they have, and in so doing, they end up producing goods and services that do not match
those of the competition. However, sustainability and development in SME is a challenge.
SMEs face various challenges that include, finance, supply chain, and knowledge gap. The
fact that SMEs find it hard to get the necessary financing, and they find it hard to compete
with the already established organizations makes it hard for them to be sustainable.
Researchers have identified finance as a significant challenge that SMEs face in business
(Quartey, Turkson, Abor, & Iddrisu, 2017; Wang, 2016). However, SMEs could overcome
the challenge by identifying the factors that are responsible for the problem and finding a way
around it. According to Abbas, wang, and Alsakarneh (2018), supply chain financing (SCF)
could provide financial support to SMEs to overcome the problem of finance which will not
only help in the management but also will help in ensuring that the firms are competitive and
that they produce goods and services that meet the desired quality hence they are able to
compete accordingly. The support could be for both the supplying organization and the
buying organization because both organizations need finances for them to be able to operate
in the market. SCF bridge the financial gap that exists between the buyer and the seller. To
the seller, SCF provides immediate payment on goods ordered by the buyer, while they give
the buyer the comfort to pay over a period. It is a form of financing that some SMEs leverage
to support their businesses. The seller will, therefore, be able to communicate by making sure
that he or she provides the much-needed products and services on time for the benefit of both
the organization and the clients. The clients will be able to receive the products and services
on time, whereas the organization will be able to provide the goods and services on time.
Crowdfunding is a platform through which small and medium business owners can raise a
fund that they might not have the capacity to obtain from the commercial bank (Brown,
Boon, & Pitt, 2017). It is a platform where a small business owner introduces the product or
project to people to raise a fund with the benefit of a reward or equity to the interested people
(Savannah, 2018). Some factors are essential for consideration to raise funds on a
crowdfunding platform successfully. The knowledge of the founder or the owner is vital to
know the period that is ideal for the campaign; when the people are not distracted with other
activities to successfully hit the fundraising target (Janku and Kučerová). The reward present
to the people is another factor for consideration in crowdfunding. The award should be
attractive to the people; and different rewards available with varying conditions for the
backers (people) to select (Savannah, 2018). Crowdfunding is also a platform for start-up and
existing businesses to market their products to people. From the review of the people on the
crowdfunding website on a product or project, more people get to know the outcome (Brown,
Boon, & Pitt, 2017).
The sustainable strategies that can be applied by the SMEs
Many scholars have emphasized the need for sustainability management in small and
medium-sized enterprises. Feniser et al. (2017) bring up the idea of using eco-innovative
levels in small and medium-sized enterprises. The authors note the importance of innovation
and the innovative management in making sure that the SMEs are sustainable and that they
are able to meet the needs of the clients on time. According to Feniser et al. (2017),
sustainability is a direction that is also useful in innovation where it integrates the economic,
social, and environmental responsibility in the management of innovation. The author also
notes the fact that also the large firms are interested in sustainability as they carry out their
activities. For firms to successfully apply sustainability in their operations, it is important for
them to understand what it is in the first place. There are two things that sustainability in
business addresses, namely the effect that the business has on the environment and the effect
that the business has on society. The role of a sustainable business strategy is to have a
positive impact on one or both. When the companies fail to focus on sustainability, there will
be some form of harm such as environmental degradation, social injustice as well as
Engert, Rauter, & Baumgartner (2016) addresses the integration of corporate sustainability
into the strategic management of various firms in the industry. The author notes the need for
the firms to ensure that there is a strategic approach as part of the business strategy and
process. Baumgartner & Rauter (2017) defines sustainable development as an economic,
environmental as well as social development that will meet the present needs but will not
pose a threat to future generations. It, therefore, means that sustainability takes care of both
the present and the future. It is important for SMEs to ensure that they are sustainable as a
way of making sure that they safeguard the resources in the society and as a way of ensuring
that both the present and the future needs of the society are met accordingly. Baumgartner &
Rauter (2017) notes that the progress that has been made by the firms towards sustainable
development has been slow, which calls for the firms to act strategically and successfully in a
sustainable way. The incorporation of sustainability into the corporate environment can be
done in three dimensions, namely, strategy context, strategy content, and strategy process.
Roome & Louche (2016) addresses business models that ensure sustainability in the
workplace. The author addresses the findings that have been made by the scholars that the
contributions made by the firms on sustainable development are founded in the new business
models. Roome & Louche (2016), therefore, looked at how the new business models for
sustainability can be applied to ensure that the businesses are sustainable enough to the extent
that they are beneficial to both the business owners and the society in general. The business
models that are unsustainable are therefore supposed to be discouraged in favor of the
sustainable ones. The author also notes the fact that the research in this area is rather static
and view of the dynamic reality. SMEs can, therefore, take part in the business models that
ensure sustainability in the services that they provide to the people in the society.
There is a need for the firm to transform the whole business logic as a way of achieving
sustainability. A business model for sustainability (BMfS) will create value for the natural
environment as well as various stakeholders. The understanding of the BMfS will deal with
the broad perspective of sustainability then incorporate the natural environment as an
important element (Abdelkafi & Täuscher, 2016). The formation of sustainable business
models is, therefore, important when it comes to ensuring that the businesses are sustainable
in various tasks that they carry out in the organization. It is, therefore, important for SMEs to
come up with effective business models that will ensure that sustainability is maintained. The
task of coming up with a successful business model will be carried out by the management.
Scheyvens, Banks, & Hughes (2016) suggests that sustainability in the businesses will be
ensured by the consideration of the Sustainable Development Goals that are supposed to
improve the lives of the people in the society. SMEs should, therefore, come up with
effective business models that will ensure success in whatever they do as a way of focusing
on sustainability since it is clear that the business models that are put in place by the business
organization are important in ensuring that they are sustainable in the long run. The studies
by Abdelkafi & Täuscher (2016) and Scheyvens, Banks, & Hughes (2016) therefore give an
insight on how the firms can ensure that they are sustainable enough by coming up with the
idea of making good business models that are focused towards sustainability. One thing that
should be noted is the fact that sustainability care both for the needs of the present generation
as well as the needs of the generations to come by ensuring that the environment is well
protected and well taken care of for the benefit of the society in general. It is also important
to align the goals of the company with the sustainable development goals as a way of making
sure that the given business is beneficial to the society as a whole.
Knowledge on corporate sustainability is important because it will help the organizations to
focus on sustainability in everything that they do in the organization. In a study that was
conducted by Hahn, Figge, Aragón-Correa, & Sharma (2016), the authors came up with the
discovery that corporate sustainability has been established as a legitimate research topic due
to the fact that it has a great influence on both the business operations, the society and the
environment. The SMEs that operate in Nigeria can use the knowledge on hoe the concept of
sustainability has been applied in several businesses in the other countries and markets to get
an insight on what they can do to ensure that they are sustainable in everything that they do in
the workplace. The study by Font, Garay, & Jones (2016) talks about the sustainability
motivations in the small tourism industries that operate in the European protected areas. It is
important to note the fact that motivation is important if anyone has to make an
accomplishment. It is important to note the fact that motivation is an important factor because
it gives individuals or companies the motivation to do something that will improve the
operations. It therefore means that the best way to ensure that there is sustainability in the
SMEs in Nigeria is by looking for the motivating factors. In the case where the management
of the organizations is motivated to be sustainable, then there will be no need of enforcement
since the desire for sustainability will be intrinsic. Font, Garay, & Jones (2016) around 900
tourism enterprises that are found 57 European protected areas are more involved in taking
responsibilities for being sustainable. The authors of the paper then embarked on the task of
finding out the factors that were responsible for making them sustainable. One notable thing
from the research is the fact that the firms that are driven by value and the lifestyle of the
people tend to be more sustainable compared to the ones that are commercially oriented. It
therefore means that the best way to ensure that there is sustainability in the SMEs is to make
them focus on the lifestyle and the wellbeing of the people as opposed to focusing on the
profits and the amount of revenue that they should make. The firms that are focused on the
amount of profits that they will make tend to do everything to get profits and some of the
measures that they put in place by be detrimental to the lives of the people in the society as
well as the environment.
What makes the SMEs sustainable to run for more than 5 years?
The SMEs can be sustainable if the managers and the owners of the firms do their best to
ensure that it happens. One important step is to define the term sustainability because it may
mean different things to different people. An understanding of the real meaning of
sustainability will play an important role in ensuring that there is sustainability in the business
organizations. It is therefore important to define it so that the stakeholders can understand
what it means to the term. A good understanding of the term will help the stakeholders in
understanding what is required of them as far as sustainability is concerned. It is also
important to bring all the stakeholders on board after an understanding of what sustainability
means to the organization. The process may involve telling the people about the importance
of the term in the company setting and aligning all the activities towards it. Explaining how a
sustainable business is supposes to be will play an important role in securing the long term
future of the SME because of the fact that the firm will be goal oriented for the benefit of the
company. The firm may also seek help on how to be sustainable and help on what
sustainability means to the organization.
One challenge that the firms face is how to sustain their businesses in the long run despite the
challenges that they face in the marketplace and in the operation of their enterprises. The
challenge is even more intense to the SMEs because of the fact that they have many things
that limit their operations in the country. Okeke, Onuorah & Jakpa (2016) assessed the impact
that sustainable management variables on the performance of the small and the medium
enterprises as a way of enhancing their sustainability in Nigeria. In the study, they noted that
the external environment was the most influential variable as far as the sustainability of the
businesses is concerned. Okeke, Onuorah & Jakpa (2016) found out that the management of
the organization can come up with different policies and strategies that are aimed in the
improvement of the SMEs and making sure that they become sustainable. According to the
study however, different policies and strategies have different effects on different firms in the
society. The authors also note the need that there is need for the firms to adapt to the evolving
policies and strategies in order to come up with the plans that will ensure their sustainability.
They should also put measures in place that will ensure that they are sustainable to the point
that they are able to survive for the long term. It should be noted the business environment is
continuously changing from time to time which calls for the companies to evolve with the
changing times as a way of being sustainable.
The SMEs can also be sustainable through effective financing. The financing of the SMEs
has an impact on the overall performance of the Nigerian economy. Taiwo, Falohun & Agwu
(2016) note that the SMEs contribute 90% to the job market, employing a majority of the
people in the country. The success of the SMEs not only benefit the owners of the business
but also positively influences the whole economy of the country. It is therefore important to
empower the sector as a way of improving the whole economy of Nigeria. The SMEs
requires adequate source of funding for them to be sustainable. According to Kozubíková
(2017) the SMEs can get their finances internally or from the external sources. The best way
which the businesses can get the finances that will ensure sustainability is by increasing their
profits which is the most sustainable way which a given business may get its funding. The
other sources of financing such as business loans may help the business in the short run to
spur it to profitability but they are definitely not sustainable because the business loans have
to be repaid by the business. Kozubíková (2017) also notes the fact that having an excellent
financial structure will ensure that the company has money that will help them in funding
their business activities. Most of the SMEs find it hard to get business loans due to the fact
that most of their transactions do not go through bank accounts. The financial institutions,
therefore, cannot provide the financing because of trust issues. It is, therefore, necessary for
the management of the businesses to make sure that they work hand in hand with the banks as
a way of ensuring the safe storage of their finances and access to the loan facilities. The fact
that the firms do not include the financial institutions in the economic prospects makes them
lag behind as the more significant enterprises continue to flourish. The lack of better financial
management and accounting system also limits the sustainability of SMEs significantly, and
that is why a good number of them collapse after a few years (EZEAGBA, 2017).
Igwe, Amaugo, Ogundana, Egere, & Anigbo (2018) conducted a study where they found out
that the level of corruption, access to finance, and access to electricity were the significant
factors that affect the performance of the businesses. The three present the problems that are
faced by the SMEs that are operating in Nigeria. Challenges in access to financing are
addressed above within this literature review. Sustainability in the businesses will only be
possible if they have access to efficient, useful, and sustainable sources of energy. The fact
that the SMEs operating I Nigeria have a challenge accessing electricity means that they will
struggle to compete with the other firms that have access to various sources of energy at a
cheaper cost (Nerini et al., 2016). Access to electricity is still a challenge in Nigeria despite
the fact that it is a resource that is required to improve the economy of the country. The
government, therefore, has the role of promoting the business environment by ensuring that
access to electricity is guaranteed for the SMEs. Some of the firms get access to electricity
through corrupt dealings that are bribery and having relationships with the people who are
working in the power distribution agency (Bertheau, Cader, & Blechinger, 2016).
Adhekpukoli (2018) addresses the fact that access to electricity in Nigeria is ineffective as a
result of the grid system. A change to the grid may be appropriates a costly exercise that will
take a lot of time and may intensify power outages for all the periods when the change made.
The best option is, therefore, looking for ways of improving the grid that is already available
to make it useful to all the people in the country. The problems in the access of electricity
make a good number of employees to close their businesses or sell them out. Having
sustainable energy solutions is, therefore, essential when it comes to sustainability in SMEs.
The business owners also have a role to play to ensure that they have access to the energy
required for them to run the businesses sustainably. The state of Nigeria has made some
progress with regard to ensuring that the Nigerians have access to electricity. One of the
strategies was the privatization of the state-owned electric power utility and the introduction
of a feed-in tariff and mini-grid regulations (Adhekpukoli, 2018). The two steps that are taken
by the government will make some progress with regards to ensuring that the SMEs have
access to electricity. Adhekpukoli (2018) advocates for the full democratization of the whole
power supply system noting that the move will lead to the improvement of the supply of the
vital source of energy in the homes and the industries within Nigeria.
The SMEs in Nigeria is also affected by the corruption that affects the success of the
businesses in the country. Crime hurts the assistance that the government provides to the
firms that are operating in Nigeria. In the study by Page & Okeke (2019), the efforts that the
government puts in place to support the small businesses in Nigeria fail as a result of
corruption witnessed in the country. The author also notes the fact that the firms that are
operating in Nigeria are in one of the most challenging business environments in the world.
According to the author, corruption is a threat to the long term development of Nigeria as a
country and prevents SMEs from being sustainable. The money that could improve the
business environment in the country is pocketed by some government officials instead of
being used for the benefit of the people in the country. The effects of corruption, according to
Page & Okeke (2019), are essential in society. Corruption is endemic in the government of
Nigeria, especially in the agencies that have the role of helping the SMEs in the country.
Crime has, therefore, eroded the trust that the people had in the government, and the worst
thing is the fact that it prevents the success of the SMEs. The other thing is that corruption
has exacerbated mismanagement as a result of the massive policy failures. The policies that
have been put in place to improve the business environment do not have the expected impact.
The corrupt individuals arrested are left scot-free because they can bribe their way out.
Instead of the reduction in the cost of doing business in the country, corruption has made the
process of setting up the firms to be harder, and the business environment is more hostile.
The amounts of money siphoned through corrupt dealings exceed the capital expenditure that
the firms spend in the country. Corruption tends to continue because it does not receive media
attention and the attention of the public. Most of the suspects, therefore, go unpunished as the
economy of the country dwindles because most of the corrupt dealings go unreported. It is
like many people in the country have accepted that corruption is the way of life, and they
think that there is nothing that they can do to prevent it or to deal with it. The other problems
that Nigeria faces are the fact that the people who have been chosen to head the anti-
corruption agencies show little interest in fighting the vice, and they have taken it lightly. The
political will to fight the cases of corruption is unavailable. The other problem is the fact that
crime is institutionalized where some of the institutions are free of fraud, but the institutions
that are meant to take care of the interests of the SMEs are full of crime. The government,
therefore, has a role in ensuring that they deal with the cases of fraud in the country as a way
of ensuring that the funds that are meant to support the SMEs do not get into the people's
pockets (Page & Okeke, 2019). The success of the SMEs, therefore, lies in the willingness of
the government to support the businesses and ensuring that the business environment in the
country is well taken care of for the benefit of the SMEs. Sustainability will, therefore, be
successful if the government deals with the problem of corruption in the country.
The human resources are essential for the sustainability of SMEs in Nigeria. Langwell &
Heaton (2016) emphasize the importance of human resources in the success of the business
and its role in the sustainability of business organizations. SMEs, just like the larger business
organizations, require good employees that are goal-oriented and can work better in the
organization. The employees facilitate all the activities that are carried out in the
organization. One of the essential things that enable the firms to be sustainable is their ability
to meet the needs of the clients. The trick to having good employees is to have an excellent
human resource management team that is aware of the needs of the company as well as the
needs of the employees. Having well-performing employees is essential to the success of the
organization. Human resource management has the role of making recruitment decisions,
making sure that the work environment for the employees is safe and comfortable for the
employees, as well as promoting and maintaining employee satisfaction. The human resource
management is supposed to be the backbone of the organization because they manage the
recruitment, compensation, and corporate strategy of the organization. Most of the employees
seek employment with the benefits in mind. The human resource specialists have the task of
ensuring that they develop the best compensation packages that are realistic for the job
requirements. Human capital has a profound effect on the success of the organization. SMEs
that have the best employees can perform better compared to the ones that do not. The firms
can, therefore, ensure sustainability by ensuring that they have dedicated employees that will
help them in achieving their goals. Recruitment of the best employees, keeping the workplace
safe, and paying the employees are sure ways of ensuring that there is sustainability in the
workplace (Langwell & Heaton, 2016).
SMEs may also be sustainable if the supply chain is well managed and made lasting as well.
According to Simamora, Aiman, & Subiyanto (2016) assessed how the management of the
supply chain enhances the sustainability of the SMEs. The author notes that the supply chain
is essential because it enables the clients to get the products at the points where they are
going to buy them. A good supply chain will ensure that the employees get the products on
time in the location that will be convenient for them. Supply chain management ensures the
safety of the products sold to customers. The supply chain is supposed to be controlled by the
people who know about forecasting to prevent the cases of oversupply or the undersupply of
the products in the market. The managers of the supply chain are supposed to have
knowledge of big data analytics that enables them to understand the needs of the market
(Mani, Delgado, Hazen, & Patel, 2017). The long term viability of a business is rooted in the
environment, economic, and social factors. The process of assessing the sustainable
functioning of the supply chains is very complicated. The connectivity of the supply chain
and making sure that there is enough information with regards to the supply chain has a
significant influence on the sustainability of the business organization (Shibin et al., 2017).
According to Nakamba, Chan, & Sharmina (2017), the researchers assessed the relationship
that exists between the supply chain and social sustainability. The concepts addressed in the
paper can help in finding out how the supply chain affects the durability of SMEs. Hsu, Tan,
& Mohamad Zailani (2016) asserted that global outsourcing shifted the job opportunities to
the emerging countries and in so doing, new opportunities, therefore, come up for such
counties to develop economically. According to the authors, having a sustainable supply
chain makes a given country to have a good reputation, which will make them have many
loyal clients. The fact that the products are available to the clients on time makes them trust
products that are coming from a given country. The SMEs in Nigeria is likely to have loyal
international clients if the supply chain is convenient.
Most of the clients hate delays, and they are likely to look for new suppliers when the
products are delivered late. A reliable and sustainable supply chain will also enable the SMEs
to be aware of the volumes of the products needed in a given market. They can, therefore,
minimize the waste of resources hence save resources. A good supply chain will, therefore,
ensure that a company is running well for more than five years (Hsu, Tan, & Mohamad
The market is very competitive meaning that the SMEs need to come up with measures that
will give them the competitive advantage that will enable them to make sales that will
increase their revenue and subsequently the amount of profit that they make (Lee, Foo,
Leong, & Ooi, 2016). The performance of the SMEs is critical to the Nigerian economy.
Then sector encourages the growth of job opportunities that help in the increase in the GDP.
The taxes that are paid by the SMEs are also crucial because they enable the government to
fund some of the activities that they participate in for the benefit of the society in general.
Having a competitive advantage opens numerous opportunities for SMEs, giving a chance for
the firms to grow. Competitive advantage has enabled several organizations to grow and
become major companies and competitors in society. Some of the firms that are recognized
around the world today started as SMEs.
A good example is KFC, which has branches internationally and has loyal clients.
Competitive advantage is, therefore, essential in ensuring that there is sustainability in the
SMEs for the long term. One of the crucial ways that SMEs can use to ensure that they have a
competitive advantage is appealing to the clients. The most compelling way to appeal to the
clients is by making sure that the products and services are of the best quality. The way the
employees treat the clients also plays a vital role in ensuring that they are loyal to the
company. An SME that stands out from the rest in the production and provision of goods and
services will often have a competitive edge over the others hence may be sustainable.
Competitive advantage is also essential because it makes the organizations have international
recognition that makes them have more clients. The SMEs that are able to gain competitive
advantage will be sustainable and they may last longer in the market as opposed to the ones
that are not competitive enough hence the SMEs need to invest in such a way that they will
have the much-coveted competitive advantage (Lee, Foo, Leong, & Ooi, 2016).
The other way in which the forms can be sustainable is by having a sound management
system that will make sure that all the activities in the firm are carried out in the best way
possible. The management controls the process of production, the process of marketing, as
well as the sales process (Jahanshahi & Brem, 2017). The administration also makes sure that
the finances of the firm are used most appropriately by preventing embezzlement and
encouraging accountability. The biggest problem that is affecting the firms and has led to the
collapse of many business entities is the use of money in the organization. The firms that lack
a reliable financial management system and an excellent financial planning strategy are likely
to fail. Having a sound management system will ensure that the organizations have the
finances for the performance of several tasks in the organization and that the cases of
financial embezzlement have been dealt with appropriately. Behavioral integration by the top
management teams plays a vital role in ensuring that there is sustainability among the SMEs.
Having senior management teams is credited for enabling the employees in the workplace to
be more innovative and to generate more novel ideas that will help in improving the
performance of the firms. The top management teams have, therefore, received praise for
enabling the businesses to be more sustainable in the tasks that they do, which leads to its
growth. The firms should, therefore, consider having Top management teams as a way of
ensuring sustainability in the business. The more learned top management teams come up
with more ideas compared to the less learned top management teams. The firms are therefore
encouraged to choose the former over the latter as a way of ensuring that the businesses are
more sustainable hence able to operate for a very long time. The collegiate top management
teams are also able to assess the competition and the other factors that affect the performance
of the business and may help in coming up with important decisions that will help in the
growth of the transaction (Jahanshahi & Brem, 2017).
Linking sustainability to profitability has also been suggested as a way in which a firm can be
sustainable both in the long run and in the short term. Sustainability may involve the use of
low-cost implements in the business to achieve the much-needed goals in the organization.
One example is reducing the amount that is spent on electricity and ensuring the use of
efficient sources of energy in the production process. The firms calculate profits as the
revenue less the running costs that have been used in production and selling the products and
services. It, therefore, means that the use of sustainable implements will lead to a reduction in
the production costs and in so making the number of profits will increase significantly. The
fact that benefit is essential, it should not be the only measure of sustainability, but rather the
assessment of the term should take a broad perspective as a way of getting the true meaning
of the time and finding out the best way of addressing the name. The SMEs are therefore
supposed to link sustainability to profitability as a way of making sure that it is successful
and to ensure that the stakeholders in the company are focused on the achievement of
sustainability (Ghassim & Bogers, 2019). SMEs can also invest in the future as a way of
making sure that they are sustainable, and they can run for more than five years. Being
future-oriented will involve coming up with both long term and short term goals, then putting
measures in place to achieve them. Coleman et al. (2016) note that the SMEs can take
advantage of the bid data in coming up with rules that will sustain and guarantee their future.
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organization may focus on sustainability by taking a broad view, which means that they
should look at the threats and opportunities and thinking about its effects on all the
stakeholders in the organization such as employees, customers, suppliers, and the broader
community as well. A more comprehensive view will help in coming up with an informed
decision as opposed to making rash decisions that could have hidden consequences to the
organization. A definition of sustainability will ensure that the stakeholders are getting it right
as they think about the whole concept. A wrong interpretation of the term may lead to the
stakeholders making mistakes that may be costly to the SME. Getting everyone on board will
make all the stakeholders take part in the success of the organization. Firms will, therefore, be
able to run for more than five years if they get everyone on board and ensure that all the
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