ResumoThis study analysed which factors drive (or not) the adoption of sustainability initiatives in small and medium-sized enterprises. Adopting a qualitative approach, we collected data (semi-structured interviews, observations and documents) in eleven organisations from the leather-footwear industry in southern Brazil. This study contributes to the existing research in two ways. First, the factors are structured into a framework according to two perspectives: (1) internal or external and (2) facilitators or inhibitors. Regarding external factors, the findings show legislation is the only factor that influences all the organisations. However, when legislation was the only factor, it is related to organisations with low levels of presence of sustainability initiatives. The lack of government incentives was found to be an important inhibitor to the adoption of sustainability initiatives. Second, our findings indicate there are two possible paths lead to the adoption of sustainability initiatives by SMEs: one based on the values held by the leaders and members of the organisation and the other guided by concern for the organisation’s reputation. We identified a possible link between the presence of women in management and the entrepreneur’s vision regarding the adoption of sustainability initiatives. Our framework can be used in quantitative studies to establish which factors are dependent and/or independent variables in order to identify the degree of correlation between them.
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