An empirical explanation of the natural-resource-based view of the firm

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To date, the natural-resource-based view has been an abstract phenomenon, primarily used by academics to explain competitive sustainable operations. This paper attempts to go beyond this, responding to the need for an explanation of the practical existence of the four natural-resource-based view resources in industry. Assuming a critical realist qualitative approach, in-depth interviews with sustainability experts in UK agri-food are undertaken. Findings demonstrate the existence of pollution prevention, product stewardship, and clean technologies and align with Hart’s conceptualization of sustainability as competitive resources. Whilst the fourth resource, the base of the pyramid, cannot be empirically verified, the fifth resource of local philanthropy is uncovered and contributes to the growing body of knowledge surrounding competitive social sustainability. Findings also challenge the hierarchal presentation of the natural-resource-based view to implicate a more cyclical uptake. Thus, in offering the first empirical explanation of the natural-resource-based view, this paper overcomes a theory-practice gap to elucidate the feasibility, orchestration, and value of resources in competitive and sustainable operations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1366-1382
Number of pages17
JournalProduction Planning and Control
Issue number16
Early online date28 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2019


  • natural resource based view
  • sustainable operations
  • competitiveness


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