Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)

School

Management

Advisor

Peter J. Anthony

Abstract

Because small- and medium-sized enterprises contribute as much as 70% of the world's pollution, small-business leaders need to develop and implement strategic approaches to sustainable development. Global sustainable development spending may reach $5 trillion by 2030. Guided by leadership competency theory, this qualitative multiple case study explored the core competencies of 5 independent small business leaders who had successfully implemented environmentally sustainable initiatives in their manufacturing firms in eastern Nebraska. Interviews and company planning documents including strategic business plans were gathered, coded, and cross-case analyzed, and member checking was periodically conducted to strengthen the trustworthiness of interpretations. Thematic analysis identified 6 themes: industry knowledge, decision making, strategy and planning, environmental sustainability knowledge, communication and interpersonal skills, and passion and commitment. The implications for positive social change include the potential for enabling small to medium business leaders to develop environmentally sustainable strategies that could contribute to an increased focus on environmentally sustainable actions leading to reduced pollution and more socially responsible communities.