EDITORIAL: Business Model, Sustainability, and Intangible Resources: Challenges and Opportunities for SMEs


green economy
circular economy
business model

How to Cite

Maglio, R., Rey, A., Agliata, F., & Cano-Rubio, M. (2021). EDITORIAL: Business Model, Sustainability, and Intangible Resources: Challenges and Opportunities for SMEs. Piccola Impresa Small Business, (2). https://doi.org/10.14596/pisb.2949


During the last decades, studies on small-medium enterprises (SMEs) and sustainability have increased, because of widespread awareness of the role of the implementation of sustainability in the business models. Sustainable business models can allow SMEs to change radically processes, products, and organizational forms to assimilate sustainability into their core business more successfully. However, there is little empirical research on the participation of SMEs in developing sustainable business models. Thus, this special issue welcomes five papers that aim to contribute to this stream of research. The first paper presents a structured literature review on circular economy and green economy. Then, the special issue includes two studies regarding the barriers and the factors that affect the application and the adoption of circular business models. Finally, two case studies that focus on the impact of the application of the Triple-Layered Business Model Canvas and on the impact of new technology on the sustainability of SMEs complete the special issue. This editorial summarizes the studies presented in the special issue, pointing out their methodology and main findings.



Boons, F., Montalvo, C., Quist, J., & Wagner, M. (2013). Sustainable innovation, business models and economic performance: an overview. Journal of Cleaner Production, 45, 1-8.

Cassells, S., & Lewis, K. (2011). SMEs and environmental responsibility: do actions reflect attitudes? Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 18(3), 186-199.

Cristoni, N., & Tonelli, M. (2018). Perceptions of Firms Participating in a Circular Economy . European Journal of Sustainable Development, 7(4), 105-118.

De los Rios, I. C., & Charnley, F. J. (2017). Skills and capabilities for a sustainable and circular economy: The changing role of design. Journal of Cleaner Production, 160, 109-122.

Dey, N., Hassanien, A. E., Bhatt, C., Ashour, A. S., & Satapathy, S. C. (2018). Internet of things and big data analytics toward next-generation intelligence. Berlin: Springer.

Franklin-Johnson, E., Figge, F., & Canning, L. (2016). Resource duration as a managerial indicator for Circular Economy performance. Journal of Cleaner Production, 133, 589-598.

Geng, Y., F. J., Sarkis, J., & Xue, B. (2012). Towards a national circular economy indicator system in China: an evaluation and critical analysis. Journal of cleaner production, 23(1), 216-224.

Klewitz, J., & Hansen, E. G. (2014). Sustainability-oriented innovation of SMEs: a systematic review. Journal of cleaner production, 65, 57-75.

Liu, Y., & Bai, Y. (2014). An exploration of firms’ awareness and behavior of developing circular economy: An empirical research in China. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 87, 145-152.

Maglio, R., Rey, A., Agliata, F., & Lombardi, R. (2020). Exploring sustainable governance: Compliance with the Italian related party transactions regulation for the legal protection of minority shareholders. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 27(1), 272-282.

Merli, R., Preziosi, M., & Acampora, A. (2018). How do scholars approach the circular economy? A systematic literature review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 178, 703-722.

Ormazabal, M., Prieto-Sandoval, V., Puga-Leal, R., & Jaca, C. (2018). Circular economy in Spanish SMEs: challenges and opportunities. Journal of cleaner production, 185, 157-167.

Pisano, P., Cautela, C., & Pironti, M. (2014). Changing customer roles to innovate business models: an overview of design-intensive industries. Piccola Impresa/Small Business, (2).

Rizos, V., B. A., Van Der Gaast, W., Hofman, E., Ioannou, A., Kafyeke, T., & Topi, C. (2016). Implementation of circular economy business models by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): Barriers and enablers. Sustainability, 8(11), 1212.

Saidani, M., Yannou, B., Leroy, Y., & Cluzel, F. (2017). How to assess product performance in the circular economy? Proposed requirements for the design of a circularity measurement framework. Recycling, 2(1), 6.

Singh, P., & Giacosa, E. (2019). Cognitive biases of consumers as barriers in transition towards circular economy. Management Decision, 57(4), 921-936.

Saita, M., & Franceschelli, M. V. (2016). Recycling strategy as a consequence of socio-economic growth. The case of an Italian Sme. Piccola Impresa/Small Business, (3).

Sharma, A., & Foropon, C. (2019). Green product attributes and green purchase behavior: A theory of planned behavior perspective with implications for circular economy. Management Decision, 57(4), 1018-1042.

Trequattrini, R., Shams, R., Lardo, A., & Lombardi, R. (2016). Risk of an epidemic impact when adopting the internet of things: the role of sector-based resistance. Business Process Management Journal, 22(2), 403-419.

Wen, Z., & Meng, X. (2015). Quantitative assessment of industrial symbiosis for the promotion of circular economy: a case study of the printed circuit boards industry in China's Suzhou New District. Journal of Cleaner Production, 90, 211-219

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