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Going green: the application of the Theory of Constraints on manufacturing SMEs (SF19/EIS/SAINIDIS)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr E Sainidis
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

The proposed research project aims to evaluate how the post-Great Recession business environment and subsequent market pressures have shaped the environmental practices of SMEs within the British manufacturing sector. Within the manufacturing strategy literature environmental practices are referred to as green manufacturing and is placed within the overarching arena of sustainable operations. The Theory of Constraints (ToC) will act as the vehicle of evaluating the obstacles of applying green manufacturing within the UK-based SMEs sector. In accordance to the ToC these obstacles typically take the shape of 3Ms: mindset, measurements and methodology. The ToC is well developed and applied within a number of business and management disciplines however a gap exists on how the theory applies to the manufacturing SMEs sector of a developed economy and its engagement with green business practices.

Responding to calls from the operations strategy and SME literature a mixed methods research strategy is suggested. This should take the form of a UK-wide survey of manufacturing SMEs followed by a suitable number of case studies or semi-structured interviews with senior SME managers. The non-probability survey will allow for an initial evaluation of how SMEs apply green manufacturing with the follow-up data set exploring the primary findings in further detail.

The theoretical contribution of the study will aim to advance the ToC within an SME context aiming to achieve green manufacturing. The expected outcome of the research is to develop a broad framework for viewing the relationship between green manufacturing and competitive positioning of manufacturing SMEs defined by the post-Great Recession business environment. Of particular interest to the research is the work by Gupta and Boyd on ToC and Deif on green manufacturing. Although both the ToC and green manufacturing as independent topics are growing in popularity amongst the academic community the proposed study is original anticipating a number of interesting results.

In addition, the research will offer an insight to manufacturing SME managers on the value and challenges of implementing an environmentally friendly strategy. This will assist manufacturing SMEs to operate within the UK government directives on the reduction of corporate carbon footprint.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.


Recent publications by supervisors relevant to this project:

Sainidis E, Robson A and Heron G (2018). Environmental turbulence and the role of business functions in the manufacturing strategy debate: the case of UK-based SMEs and the Great Recession. Journal of General Management (paper under review and resubmit).

Sainidis E and Robson A (2018). A decade of competitive priorities within manufacturing SMEs: a longitudinal study from 2000 to 2017. ISBE Conference. 7-8 Nov 2018.

Sainidis E and Robson A (2017). SMEs and environmental practices: a study of the UK-based manufacturing SMEs sector. ISBE Conference. 8-9 Nov 2017.

Sainidis E and Robson A (2016). Environmental turbulence: impact on UK SMEs’ manufacturing priorities. Management Research Review. Vol. 39 (10).

Sainidis E, Robson A and Heron G (2014). Dealing with environmental turbulence - manufacturing strategy review and the changing roles of the business functions post-2008 recession. British Academy of Management Conference, 9-11 Sep 2014.

Sainidis E, Robson A and Heron G (2013). Realigning the manufacturing priorities of SMEs as result of the 2008 UK economic downturn. British Academy of Management Conference, 10-12 Sep 2013.

Related Subjects

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