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Exchanging Practices: An International Forum for Small & Medium-Sized Businesses Paola Spadaro, Ph.D University of Bari Italy Neil H. Schwartz, Ph.D. California.

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Presentation on theme: "Exchanging Practices: An International Forum for Small & Medium-Sized Businesses Paola Spadaro, Ph.D University of Bari Italy Neil H. Schwartz, Ph.D. California."— Presentation transcript:

1 Exchanging Practices: An International Forum for Small & Medium-Sized Businesses Paola Spadaro, Ph.D University of Bari Italy Neil H. Schwartz, Ph.D. California State University, Chico M. Beatrice Ligorio, Ph.D. University of Bari, Italy

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3 What is DI.CO.TE.? DI.CO.TE. is: O A funded project to study cooperation among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the context of sustainability. O Designed to last 3 years (2009 – 2012). O Funded by the: Italian region of Puglia (70%) + the University of Bari (20%) + regional enterprises (10%). O Aimed at: O Matching enterprises with the University so that they colloborate in achieving sustainable practices. O Designing a digital platform that allows cooperation among SMEs.

4 Sustainability… what does it mean? “Sustainability meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED, 1987, p.25). Sustainability is generated by a convergence of social, environmental and economic responsible behaviors (Bansal, 2005).

5 What should be sustainable? O Cultures O Resources O Market

6 Who generates sustainability? O Citizens O Politicians O Entrepreneurs O Employees O Children O Adults O Professors O Students O …anyone is able to modify the social, environmental, and economic contexts. People Identity values sense of belonging history motivations emotions

7 EVERYWHERE IN DAILY LIFE Where and when is sustainability generated?

8 Behaviors Sustainability focuses on people’s Identities Self Social Identity Sense of belonging At home At work Who am I? What do I do? Am I sustainable? Are my actions sustainable? It means BEING a sustainable Human Being

9 What does Science say about Sustainability? O Hamilton and Gioia (2009): sustainability is neither a further aspect that enterprises have to take into account in their yearly balance, or a value to embrace as the vision of the company. It is an aspect of the identity of an organization. O Fredrickson (2003): Companies that play with a commitment toward sustainability activate an “upward spiral” gradually enhancing positive outcomes and satisfaction either in their business or in their organizational practices. Sustainability is not an option in your life; it is your way to be,-- the features that others use to recognize you in a crowd. Sustainability is a smart strategy for achieving your success. Sustainability is a matter of Identity and behavior.

10 Each company is a Community of Practice O Communities of Practices (Wenger, 1998)  Enterprises grow and learn, if they are involved in the creation of: O Meaning: a way of thinking about their world; O Practice: a way to use social and natural resources; O Community: a way to be engaged in social configurations; O Identity: a way to be in the context of their communities

11 What are the objectives of DI.CO.TE? There are three of them.

12 DICOTE Objective 1 To investigate the identity and culture of enterprises (Meaning, Community, & Identity) This objective addresses the analysis of how entrepreneurs represent themselves when they talk about “sustainability”, and “cooperation”.

13 DICOTE Objectives 2 This objective addresses the analysis of the impact of the implementation of ICT in enterprises to create a cooperative culture. To investigate the relation between ICT and enterprises (Practice & Community)

14 DICOTE Objectives 3 This objective addresses the development of a technological solution that can supplement the relational potential of communication tools mediated by web and mobile technologies as well as the information functionality of databases. To develop a software that supports a cooperative culture (Practice & Community)

15 What have we learned from DI.CO.TE so far? Next, is a brief sample of some of our research findings.

16 When, 10 years ago, I went to meetings of the Association of Industrials with my bike they laughing of me... Anyway, I was arriving with a serenity, because I was not stressed out for parking. I didn’t care of the queue...and...of I didn’t have the agitation to depend to the others‘ actions, of a kind of stress that is self-generated because you go with a big car for being cool, and you don’t find a park, and you are anxious for avoiding hits. And then I stated a different way to be...this fact, for someone...it creates a sort of competition to be more different than the others. So, the example is very important. The same happens when someone asks you to do a non-ethical action and you answer “no kid, I want to sleep well tonight, I want to be well“...this reaction is a model for him.” We have learned something about self and social identity

17 We also learned that entrepreneurs think of sustainability in terms of private self and professional self. Consider the following excerpts…

18 Self– PRIVATE LIFE Individual Internal Excerpt 6. (F2). Entrepreneur E2 1.To be honest, I was sick of spending the nights away, I didn’t like it… 2.I interiorized this negative aspect and I transformed it in value External Excerpt 7. (F1). Entrepreneur E5 1.‘For example, not to mention business for example I have some books 2.at home, because my uncle always gives them to me. They are books 3.about the Second World War, which are not interesting for me. 4.So when my friends come to my place, I tell them here there are fifty 5.books, choose one, because theoretically from my point of you this 6.is an externality for me, because it is there and it is not used, 7.and so re-using them, that is the potential use’. SocialInternal Excerpt 8. (F2). E5 1.‘Being a good model is important (…) When we talk with teenagers, 2.we think that they are impeded, we think that they are weak (…)' ExternalExcerpt 9. (F2). Entrepreneur E4 1.‘As to say that there is a real osmosis of externalities and negative 2.aspects (…) also our parents, assuming a protective attitude, 3.can inculcate negative values’

19 Self – PROFESSIONAL LIFE IndividualInternal Excerpt 10. (F1). E3 ‘I am a member of an Italian corporation’. External Excerpt 11. (F2). E3 ‘I trust my collaborators’. CollectiveInternal Excerpt 12. (F1).E2 ‘We had meetings about cooking in our enterprise’; ‘We do recycle’ ExternalExcerpt 16. (F2). E2 ‘Our small and medium enterprises’ are not ready for a cultural change

20 Then… Entrepreneurs want to take care of their identity and learn to be different and successful (Hamilton & Gioia 2009). Entrepreneurs need to be scaffolded and to exchange best practices to be better human beings (Vygotsky, 1939).

21 That is why DICOTE is in the Golden State

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24 Discussion What is it for you to be sustainable ? Contacts:


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