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

McDougall, Natalie and Wagner, Beverly and MacBryde, Jill (2019) An empirical explanation of the natural-resource-based view of the firm. Production Planning and Control, 30 (16). pp. 1366-1382. ISSN 0953-7287 (

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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.


McDougall, Natalie ORCID logoORCID:, Wagner, Beverly ORCID logoORCID: and MacBryde, Jill;