Student research prize 2017: Faculty of Business

Abigail Patrick

BA (Hons) Marketing

Sustainable Earth Institute team lead: Dr Victoria Hurth

Understanding attitudes of UK female adults in relation to Fairtrade food products: a focus on perceived product attributes

The purpose of this study was to investigate consumer attitudes toward Fairtrade products in relation to female consumers within the UK.

Fairtrade is a market which has seen rapid growth over previous years. However, literature suggests that the market still suffers from negative associations from consumers. This research aims to assess the direct effect of the Fairtrade mark on consumer attitudes toward individual product attributes, such as product quality, price, availability, country-of-origin, and ethical value. 

The present study adopted a quantitative online survey design, which obtained a total of 147 usable responses for the data analysis. Following the data collection, results were analysed using a variety of statistical methods via SPSS software, from which a number of statistically significant conclusions could be drawn.

Results indicated that the awareness level of the Fairtrade mark is significantly high at 93.6 per cent amongst respondents, however knowledge of Fairtrade appears to be limited. Attitudes toward Fairtrade products as a category were examined; of which all product attributes (quality, price, country-of-origin, and ethical value), with the exception of product availability were rated positively on average. Paired-samples t-tests were performed in order to examine the differences between respondents’ attitude toward products with a Fairtrade label and products without, therefore allowing the researcher to draw upon conclusions of the direct effect of the Fairtrade mark. Results revealed opposite findings to what was expected with respondents holding stronger positive attitudes toward products with a Fairtrade mark in comparison to those without.

In addition, paired-samples t-tests were used to investigate the difference between respondents’ attitude toward Fairtrade products as a category and separate Fairtrade products presented to them. Results indicated that respondents contradict their own attitudes toward Fairtrade products as a category by holding more positive attitudes toward separate Fairtrade products displayed to them. Furthermore, correlation and linear regression tests were used where appropriate, to examine the association between attitude toward Fairtrade as a category and separate Fairtrade products.

The study presented interesting conclusions which raised uncertainty about the existing literature surrounding the research topic. The research findings suggested the need for further study and insight into the area of consumer attitudes toward Fairtrade products in order to provide further clarification.

Shannen Trout

LLB (Hons) Law

Sustainable Earth Institute lead: Mr Jason Lowther

First World Problems, Developing World Impacts: An Assessment of the Adequacy of the Law on Shipbreaking

Shipbreaking in less developed countries has been a global environmental and social issue since the industry moved to the beaches in South Asia during the 1980’s.

Shipbreaking was originally carried out in Europe and the United States up until then, however as a result of the desire of ship-owners to maximise profits, and the lack of a regulated market, vessels began to be sent to South Asia, predominantly Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, where health and safety standards are nominal and the environment has little standing when set against basic human survival.

Shipbreaking in Bangladesh involves beaching vessels and then manually stripping them of valuable materials. As such it is an important recycling process creating significant revenue, and employing large numbers of labourers. However, it is a considerably dangerous job when carried out by hand, as more often than not the ships still contain explosive and toxic materials. The lack of workplace protection is a serious concern for anyone involved in the process; and has created a legacy or long-term and extensive environmental pollution. This has demonstrable impacts on the health of coastal communities as well as direct impacts seen in the depletion of artisanal fisheries and the reduction of biodiversity in areas adjacent to the shipbreaking yards.

International legal provisions relating to hazardous waste have been applied to the industry, and issue-specific international norms are developing, albeit slowly. In-country laws are often ineffective due to a lack of enforcement capability or political will. The dissertation assesses the extent to which the legal regimes are able adequately to address the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the trade and highlight its deficiencies. Examining international, regional and national measures it concludes that current practices are unsustainable and that the consequences of inadequate legal regulation places a significant and unwelcome burden on coastal communities in developing nations.

Niklas Bien

Masters in Business Management

Sustainable Earth Institute lead: Dr Stephen Childe

Current status of green supply chain management implementation – evidence from German small and medium-sized enterprises

German consumers are more sensitised to green products than ever before (Umwelt Bundesamt, 2011). As customer interest in green products is steadily rising Green Supply Chain Management becomes more important to enterprises.

Even though small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can be recognised as the ‘engines of economic growth’ (Bititci, et al., 2012), the majority of research focuses on Large Enterprises (Curran & Blackburn, 2001; Gimenez & Tachizawa, 2012; Carbone, et al., 2012). SMEs represent a relevant research focus, making up more than 99 per cent of all companies in Germany and employing more than 60 per cent of the overall work force (Söllner, 2014). This research paper aims at exploring the current status of GSCM implementation in German SMEs, and investigating motivations and expected benefits.

A conceptual model is developed based on recent literature, representing the hypotheses and potential relationships between the above mentioned variables. Recent literature has been employed to create a questionnaire, which generated 126 valid responses from German SMEs from various regional areas of Germany. Responses are analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics.

According to literature, Germany is one of the major implementers of green activities, yet this research shows that German SMEs have not reached the implementation stage of GSCM. German SMEs show the lowest implementation stage in the Cooperation with Customers (CC) and Green Purchasing (GP). The questioned Enterprises rank fnancial activities like Investment recovery (IR) highest and expect economical and ecological benefits through a great GSCM implementation stage higher than operational benefits.

This research paper addresses a clear research gap and contributes knowledge in the fields of GSCM in German SMEs. Results should be used to explore reasons for the low implementation stage of GSCM in German SMEs and potential motivations to drive a positive green development in this area.

Adam Popperwell

BA (Hons) International Business

Sustainable Earth Institute lead: Dr Alison Ashby

Influence of Tax CSR on consumer perception

This study is centred around the influence of Tax CSR on consumer perception. The study identifies the main aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility and its link with tax. Through the use of both quantitative and qualitative data, in the forms of an online survey and email interviews respectively, the study largely complements the literature assessed in the literature review. Using the relevant case study of Starbucks tax avoidance in 2012, the study also measures the consumer perception of Starbucks. Conclusions found that Tax CSR does in fact have an influence upon consumer perception. Furthermore, the payment of tax by organisations was found to be relatively important to the consumer.

Charlotte Dewhurst

BSc (Hons) Sociology

Sustainable Earth Institute lead: Professor Alison Anderson

A small-scale investigation into the consumption of clothing and the ethical fashion industry

This small-scale study provides an investigation into how aware a sample of the general public was of ethical and sustainability issues in relation to the production of clothing, and whether or not an ethical mind-set affected buying habits.

The research assessed how the sustainable fashion movement can be introduced to a wider audience and what measures would encourage more individuals to buy more consciously. It moved away from sampling techniques used in existing literature in the field to gain a wider perspective. Two samples were produced for this research; the first consisted of consumers of both sexes with a mixture of ages and classes, the second of ethical clothing producers in the South West. Separate surveys were created for each sample (one qualitative one quantitative), to determine behaviours of the consumers and attitudes towards sustainable clothing in society. It was found that women tended to be most ethical, regardless of age or background and the high cost of ethical clothing, and inadequate information about both sustainable apparel brands and the true impacts of fast fashion were lamed for the lack of conscious consumerism.

Olivia Stephens

BSc (Hons) Business and Tourism

Sustainable Earth Institute lead: Dr Rong Huang

An investigation into perceptions of sustainability and its importance to tourism business operations in Dartmoor National Park

Within this research, an investigation into the perceptions of sustainability and its importance over business operations on Dartmoor National Park has been carried out. Secondary research divulged a range of existing literature concerning sustainability, rural sustainable tourism and active sustainability initiative available for Dartmoor businesses, otherwise known as Dartmoor First. In-depth interviews were carried out, aimed at identifying and understanding of sustainability and its perceived importance, the results of which, revealed a range of insightful information, mainly inclusive of associated environmental and social principles. Conclusions drawn from the results concentrated on positive perceptions of sustainability among the sample, as well as the low success rate of the Dartmoor First initiative in influencing sustainability practices around Dartmoor.