Working Paper Ircres-CNR 03/2018                            
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Overcoming sustainability barriers through Formalized Network Contracts (FNCs): the experience of Italian SMEs.

Laura Corazzaa, Maurizio Cisia, Greta Falavignab


a Dipartimento di Management, Università di Torino

b CNR-IRCRES, Istituto di Ricerca sulla Crescita Economica Sostenibile del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, via Real Collegio 30, Moncalieri (TO) – Italy


corresponding author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



The role of formal business networking in SMEs is receiving more attention from scholars and practitioners. However, several aspects remain unclear, including if and how, corporate sustainability approaches are implemented and aligned within such networks, mostly created for competitiveness and resource efficiency purpose. With the aim of filling this gap in the literature over Small Business Social Responsibility, an empirical investigation is proposed by analyzing 389 Formalized Network Contracts and their original legal document, following Bocken et al. (2014) business model archetypes and NBS (2012) studies on sustainable innovation and, normative-making perspectives. Findings include the addition of a new general aims for such FNC that is the creation and enablement of clusters, following the perspective of Creation of Shared Value. In addition, we demonstrate that FNC is a suitable tool for micro, SMEs, and individual entrepreneurs to meet sustainability issues introducing eco-innovations, eco-efficiency and shared value herein their products/services, business models and organizational changes as roughly half of these contracts include a reference to sustainability issues.


Keywords: Formalized Network Contracts (FNCs), Sustainability, Creation of Shared Value (CSV); Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)


JEL codes: L22; M14; Q01; Q56


DOI: 10.23760/2421-7158.2018.003


How to Cite this Article

Corazza L., Cisi M., Falavigna G., 2018. “Overcoming sustainability barriers through Formalized Network Contracts (FNCs): the experience of Italian SMEs”, Working Paper CNR-IRCRES, 4(3), 1-26,


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