Special Issue "Competitiveness of SMEs"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 August 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Sebastian Ion Ceptureanu
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Faculty of Management, The Bucharest University of Economic Studies, 6 Piata Romana, 1st district, Bucharest 010374, Romania
Interests: entrepreneurship; sustainable entrepreneurship; knowledge management; organizational sustainability

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are considered the backbone of economic growth virtually in any country and across any region. They greatly contribute to the economic development by providing jobs, acting as suppliers of goods and services for various actors—large-sized enterprises (LSEs), public administration, or non-profits—and contribute significantly to GDP.

Most SMEs have simple systems and procedures, which allow flexibility, immediate feedback, short decision-making chains, or quicker responses to customer needs than larger organizations. In spite of these, they are under tremendous pressure to sustain their competitiveness in domestic as well as global markets. Owing to global competition, technological advances and changing needs of consumers, competitive paradigms are changing. These changes are forcing SMEs to focus simultaneously on product development, new management practices, implementation of new supply and demand approaches, new forms of innovation, new marketing tools and new approaches to manufacturing processes.

This Special Issue on “Competitiveness of SMEs” will fill an important gap in literature by exploring the avenues explored by SMEs to achieve competitiveness. In this sense, we encourage original submissions, as well as review articles, theoretical, and empirical contributions related to, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • New sources for competitive advantages of SMEs
  • Competitive priorities
  • Leadership/top management support
  • Organization culture
  • Total quality management
  • Development of alliances
  • Innovative marketing approaches
  • Supply chain management
  • Clean production/TPM
  • Innovation/knowledge management

Dr. Sebastian Ion Ceptureanu
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Effectiveness of Kano-QFD Approach to Enhance Competitiveness of Technology-Based SMEs through Transfer Intention Model
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7885; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197885 - 23 Sep 2020
Abstract
Despite the value of QFD (Quality Function Deployment), it has been applied to individual industries, or only to large companies with sufficient QFD-related human resources and sufficient financial resources. Most SMEs, which account for 80% of the world economy, have not been able [...] Read more.
Despite the value of QFD (Quality Function Deployment), it has been applied to individual industries, or only to large companies with sufficient QFD-related human resources and sufficient financial resources. Most SMEs, which account for 80% of the world economy, have not been able to benefit from QFD, the tool designed to revamp the growth, due to the lack of financial and human resources to implement QFD and Kano Model. This paper is brought to assess the effectiveness of Kano-QFD approach for technology-based SMEs through the transfer intention model. In order to verify the effectiveness of the above approach, 860 technology-based SMEs in their establishment 3–7 years are researched for the learning transfer intention after the completion of Kano QFD education and training program. The results of this study are that the perceived content validity has the direct effect on learning transfer intention simultaneously with the partial mediating effect through the self-efficacy factor. The learner readiness does not directly influence the learning transfer intention and the self-efficacy completely mediates the learner readiness and the transfer intention. This research contributes to providing critical implications for the educators and training planners in in private sector as well as policy makers of technology-based SMEs in the public sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Competitiveness of SMEs)
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Open AccessArticle
Social Media and IOT Wearables in Developing Marketing Strategies. Do SMEs Differ From Large Enterprises?
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7292; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187292 - 05 Sep 2020
Abstract
The fast development of technologies shapes the way companies address and understand their customers’ needs, including the more and more pressing call for sustainability. If, by now, many organizations use the advantages of social media in their marketing strategies, newer technologies, such as [...] Read more.
The fast development of technologies shapes the way companies address and understand their customers’ needs, including the more and more pressing call for sustainability. If, by now, many organizations use the advantages of social media in their marketing strategies, newer technologies, such as Internet of things (IoT) wearables, are not fully used to their whole potential. Thus, we conducted two research studies—a qualitative one in the form of a focus group where eight different companies’ representatives took part, followed by a quantitative one in the form of an online questionnaire, where 84 (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) SMEs and Large Enterprises answered. The main purpose of our research was to investigate companies’ attitudes and practices about using social media and IoT wearable technologies in developing organizational marketing strategies. The results indicate that, though there are some differences in the perception and use of social media and IoT wearables for developing marketing strategies, these differences are not marked between SMEs and Large Enterprises, but rather between micro enterprises and other companies with higher numbers of employees. Additionally, there are some differences noticed between companies operating in regional, national, or international markets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Competitiveness of SMEs)
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Open AccessArticle
Gender Diversity and the Choice of Conflict Management Styles in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7136; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177136 - 01 Sep 2020
Abstract
The current study investigates the relation between biological sex and gender role upon the choice of conflict management styles. The Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) measured the gender role and Rahim Organizational Conflict Inventory-II (ROCI-II) Form C measured the conflict handling styles. Participants [...] Read more.
The current study investigates the relation between biological sex and gender role upon the choice of conflict management styles. The Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) measured the gender role and Rahim Organizational Conflict Inventory-II (ROCI-II) Form C measured the conflict handling styles. Participants were employees of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The results found that biological sex has no correlation with the choice of conflict management style. On the other hand, the findings have shown that gender role is a predictor for the choice of conflict management styles as masculine individuals were highest on the dominating conflict style, whereas feminine individuals were highest on the avoiding style. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Competitiveness of SMEs)
Open AccessArticle
Eco-innovation Capability and Sustainability Driven Innovation Practices in Romanian SMEs
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7106; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177106 - 31 Aug 2020
Abstract
This study examines the influence of eco-innovation capability on sustainability driven innovation practices in SMEs. In this study, eco-innovation capability is represented by four factors—internal setting, strategies, operations and structure—while sustainability driven innovation practices are represented by three types of practices—process, organizational and [...] Read more.
This study examines the influence of eco-innovation capability on sustainability driven innovation practices in SMEs. In this study, eco-innovation capability is represented by four factors—internal setting, strategies, operations and structure—while sustainability driven innovation practices are represented by three types of practices—process, organizational and product. The direct relationship between eco-innovation capability and sustainability driven innovation practices is statistically tested by using a sample of 397 Romanian manufacturing small and medium-sized enterprises using PLS–SEM and SmartPLS software. The results show that the development of eco-innovation capability has a direct and positive effect on sustainability driven innovation practices employed in manufacturing SMEs by encouraging them to get involved in cleaner production practices, waste handling and recycling on a regular basis or integrate eco-efficiency into their operations, develop new channels for sustainable products or integrate customers’ suggestions or complaints, implement environment management systems, use eco-friendly raw materials or focus on new product development, for instance. Therefore, the paper extends the literature dedicated to eco-innovation by shedding some light on what to focus on when building eco-innovation capability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Competitiveness of SMEs)
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Open AccessArticle
Value Creation Attributes—Clustering Strategic Options for Romanian SMEs
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 7007; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177007 - 27 Aug 2020
Abstract
Value proposition can be an important source of competitive advantage for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Unlike large companies which follow a rational and sequential process, developing a value proposition in an SME is instead a trial and error process. Therefore, those [...] Read more.
Value proposition can be an important source of competitive advantage for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Unlike large companies which follow a rational and sequential process, developing a value proposition in an SME is instead a trial and error process. Therefore, those companies are experimenting with various options. The purpose of this paper was to identify the value strategies used by SMEs based on value dimensions and attributes and to find specific groups of SMEs with a similar market approach. We present a theoretical framework on customer value creation and customer value communication, followed by a quantitative research on 399 Romanian SMEs. We used a principal component analysis to reduce the number of choices and afterwards we ran a cluster analysis to identify the distinct groups of SMEs using specific value propositions. We found that there are three major strategic options based on customer experience, affordability and customization, and four distinct clusters: customer delight (A), multiple sources of differentiation (B), one-to-one marketing (C) and cost—effectiveness (D). Three groups use distinct value propositions—A focuses on customer experience, C on customization, D on affordability—while B mixes all of them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Competitiveness of SMEs)
Open AccessArticle
The Economic Impact of a New Type of Ripening Chamber in Traditional Cheese Manufacturing
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6682; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166682 - 18 Aug 2020
Abstract
A new prototype of a ripening chamber was proposed in the CFD4CHEESE project aiming to evaluate the application of computational fluid dynamics in the optimization of traditional cheeses ripening conditions. With the purpose of evaluating the possible impact on the energy cost of [...] Read more.
A new prototype of a ripening chamber was proposed in the CFD4CHEESE project aiming to evaluate the application of computational fluid dynamics in the optimization of traditional cheeses ripening conditions. With the purpose of evaluating the possible impact on the energy cost of cheese ripening in three Portuguese regions (Setúbal, Évora, and Beja), we demonstrated the potential economic benefits of the prototype. The proposed automation process would imply higher productive efficiency, reducing the consumption of water and electricity. The simple consideration of the reduction of electricity costs is enough to recover the investment needed to have the new ripening chambers, meaning that the investment is economically viable. In addition to the economic impact in firms, which are mostly small and medium firms, our results also contribute to an increase on the sustainable use of natural resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Competitiveness of SMEs)
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Open AccessArticle
Cloud Computing Usage in SMEs. An Empirical Study Based on SMEs Employees Perceptions
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4960; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124960 - 18 Jun 2020
Abstract
This paper aims to determine the perception of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employees regarding the usage of cloud computing services in their activities. The quantitative study was conducted on a sample of 315 respondents employed in Romanian SMEs. Testing of the conceptual [...] Read more.
This paper aims to determine the perception of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employees regarding the usage of cloud computing services in their activities. The quantitative study was conducted on a sample of 315 respondents employed in Romanian SMEs. Testing of the conceptual model was performed with the WarpPLS 3.0 software. The study aimed to test how several constructs—the perceived benefits, disadvantages and risks, communication process, overall experience of using cloud computing services, perceived image, and empathy regarding the cloud computing services—influence the perception of the cloud computing service quality among SMEs employees. Moreover, employees’ perception regarding the satisfaction of using cloud computing services based on the perceived quality was also tested. We concluded that the perceived benefits and disadvantages of cloud computing service usage, the perception of both the communication process and users’ experience regarding cloud computing service use, empathy, and cloud computing service image positively influence the perceived quality of the cloud computing service usage in SMEs. We did not find evidence that the perceived risks significantly influence the perceived quality of cloud computing services. Finally, we demonstrated that the perceived quality of the cloud computing services positively influences the satisfaction regarding cloud computing services among SMEs employees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Competitiveness of SMEs)
Open AccessArticle
Does an Innovative Climate Help to Sustain Competitiveness? The Moderating Effect of Government Support and Market Competition
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 2029; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12052029 - 06 Mar 2020
Abstract
Innovation has become a key source of competitive advantage that supports companies in achieving sustainable development. Organizational innovations usually start from employees’ innovative ideas, irrespective of the company’s size. If there were no specific rules to restrain employees from generating novel ideas, innovation [...] Read more.
Innovation has become a key source of competitive advantage that supports companies in achieving sustainable development. Organizational innovations usually start from employees’ innovative ideas, irrespective of the company’s size. If there were no specific rules to restrain employees from generating novel ideas, innovation could happen anywhere in an organization. The quest for innovation calls for a broad range of management strategies that are far beyond the research and development (R&D) investment. How can managers integrate intra-organizational management and external factors to incentivize people for innovations? Drawing on the interactional theory of organizational innovation, this study adopted a systematic perspective and tested the effect of the innovative climate on sales and manufacturing department innovation while examining the moderating effects of government support and market competition. Our findings from a survey of 482 companies showed that: (1) an innovative climate has a positive effect on both sales and manufacturing department innovation, (2) government support strengthens the positive effect of an innovative climate on department innovations, and (3) market competition enhances the positive moderating effect of government support on the relationship between an innovative climate and department innovation, such that the innovative climate exerts a stronger influence on department employee-driven innovation when government support and market competition are both high. Our study provides companies with an effective and low-cost approach to enhance competitiveness. We discuss the theoretical contributions and practical implementations of this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Competitiveness of SMEs)
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