Dr Sidsel Grimstad
Newcastle Business School
- Phone:(02) 49216271
Competitive, collaborative and green?
An expert on environmental sustainability, Dr Sidsel Grimstad is seeking to discover how being green in business can be a competitive advantage and how it can be supported through collaborative networks.
Dr Sidsel Grimstad is interested in tackling one of the world’s pressing issues – environmental sustainability. She’s intrigued by the ways in which small firms pursue their business objectives to earn their livelihoods, while at the same time reacting to policies and pressures created by a growing number of ecological challenges.
“National and regional institutional frameworks result in small businesses dealing with environmental challenges in very different ways,” she divulges.
“Social capital and networks have a large impact on environmental adaptation as well.”
As eco-conscious as she is conscious of the 21st century need for collaboration, Sidsel is committed to exploring the cooperative actions – or inactions – of small firms. Especially interested in those operating within rural industries, the early career researcher aims to determine the extent to which external changes confront or lead to successful business clustering and regional development.
“This work is an extension of what I learnt during my Honours Degree from the Norwegian Agricultural University and later, my MBA from the University of Newcastle,” she elaborates.
“It is also complemented by 10 years’ professional experience in the environmental sector in Norway and 10 years working in development which included a position at the United Nations in Rome appraising and supervising rural development projects throughout Africa.”
“My outlook is strongly international.”
Not quite apples and oranges
Sidsel’s research career began in 2008, when she commenced a PhD in Management at the University of Newcastle (UON). Masterfully undertaken in two languages, the five-year probe sought to compare apple farming in Hardanger on the west coast of Norway, and wine production in the Hunter Valley.
“Both agriculture-based tourism areas announced they were wanting to ‘go green’,” she recalls.
“So I endeavoured to find out exactly what it is that helps and hinders their adoption of eco-friendly practices.”
Originally setting out to find similarities between the two, Sidsel concedes it was the “marked differences” in each country’s respective institutional frameworks that were most surprising – and illuminating.
“The Norwegian Government, as is mostly the case in Scandinavia, is very proactive in what can be termed ‘environmental reform’ – it continuously introduces legislation and incentives to encourage a process towards environmental sustainability,” she explains.
“As a direct result, the region’s traditionally quite conservative farmers are able to commit to long-term environmental improvements as a community.”
“This social cohesion and peer pressure was less noticeable in an Australian case of wine-tourism business, even though they had a strong community feeling and their outlook was less traditional, their focus was more short-term because there were fewer incentives.”
“The Australian environmental policy regime has primarily been that environmental action should be driven by voluntary efforts.”
From stepping stones to building blocks
Sidsel stayed on at UON after receiving her award in 2013, signing on to lecture and develop her research profile within the Newcastle Business School. She has since been involved in a number of promising projects, most recently weighing up the collaborative potential of small firms in and around Newcastle.
“This work is in line with some of our Faculty’s new initiatives around cooperatives and other organisational forms, which are part of the new sharing economy,” she states.
“I want to see how these new collaborative ways of doing business may also benefit the environment.”
“This requires cross-disciplinary approaches and I have been actively involved in the establishment and facilitating of a new cross-disciplinary research group called WISED, the Workshop for Institutional and Socio-Economic Development”.
An active collaborator, Sidsel is teaming up with Dr Julie McIntyre (UON), and Associate Professor Rumina Dhalla from the University of Guelph, Canada, to explore how various types of social, cultural and historical capital influence the Hunter’s prosperous wine region.
She is also working with Professor John Burgess and a team of academics from Curtin University, examining and supporting through industry seminars the collaboration and knowledge sharing among small businesses in the Swan Valley wine region.
More recently she has worked with Tourism academic Dr Po-Hsin Lai examining the relationship between coal-seam gas activity and the Gloucester tourism industry.
“We wanted to understand how the community has dealt with this externally-imposed new phenomenon,” she comments.
“I’m specifically studying the role that the local media has played in the process. It is fascinating to go over 10 years’ worth of discussion and representation.”
Adopting UON’s well-known ‘I look ahead’ motto, Sidsel is already planning to add to this impressive and far-reaching list of current pursuits. Giving us a glimpse into her not-so-distant future, the eco-conscious academic plans to do further research in the area of eco-innovation and business collaboration, potentially in renewable energy and environmental conservation.
“These will be increasingly important areas of focus in the future,” she asserts.
“During the last couple of years, I have been involved in cross-faculty postgraduate teaching on social and policy considerations of disaster management with the Faculty of Engineering,” she says.
“This has opened my eyes to the positive impact small business cooperation can have in increasing community resilience and mitigating the impact of extreme weather due to climate change in developing countries.”
“I am hoping to pursue research in this area in the future, as I think there might be important organisational innovations developed in resource-poor countries that we can all learn from and support.”
“As governments continually retract, I believe a lot of the problems and solutions will be found in the private sector.”
“I also firmly believe that there is a need for greater collaboration across the urban-rural and developed-developing divide.”
Through education and work experiences I have developed a keen interest in how environmental challenges are dealt with under different institutional frameworks, different countries' policies and in particular by small businesses in rural areas. My educational background is first an Honours degree in the Norwegian Agricultural University, later complemented by an MBA and finally a PHD in Management, I have studied comparatively how small rural businesses adopt, react and pursue their businesses and livelihoods within policies and external pressures created by environmental challenges. This deep interest both in how and what influences businesses' reactions to environmental issues and policies, has led me down the path of examining how social networks and ties impact on environmental adaptation, how local and national institutional frameworks influences how businesses adapt and to what degree they are committed long-term as collective or individual business, and whether businesses follow community or social peer pressure with regards to pursuing environmental action.
My PhD thesis compared the two very different rural business communities committed to sustainable development; one among the apple-tourism farmers in Hardanger Norway and one among wine-tourism businesses in Lovedale, Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia. Analysing these two communities and their approach to balancing business and environmental action, led me to conclude that in more traditional farming communities environmental action might be perceived sceptically, yet when they commit as a community, there is more peer pressure and social cohesion to support action being taken. While in a more urban-linked business-environment, such as the wine industry which is closely dependent on fashion and tastes of the urban consumers, there is more eco-innovation and positive response to urban approaches to environmental action. Yet in these more individualistic businesses, social pressure and therefore collective environmental commitments are less strong.
As a lecturer being a Norwegian national and with a substantial work experience from Europe, Americas and African countries, I have developed an excellence in teaching courses in the area of Managing Diversity, Social and Policy Considerations of Disaster Management, Negotiation and Advocacy and Cross-Cultural Management. I have also lectured and tutored other courses in the Management, International Business and Human Resources Field.
My research focus is on how clusters of businesses collaborate, compete, innovate, create and share knowledge. I have undertaken cluster research in rural industries such as agriculture-based tourism, including wine and fruit businesses, accommodation, catering and events businesses. My PhD thesis involved comparative research between a Norwegian and Australian agriculture-based tourism community involved in a process towards sustainability. I am currently involved in two projects that examine how rural industries are affected by and position themselves in regards to environmental sustainability issues in their region.
I have taught undergraduate and post-graduate courses at the University of Newcastle since 2006. My teaching experience has been in the area of Management and IR/HRM. Undergraduate IRHR 3040 Negotiation and Advocacy IRHR 3035 Managing Diversity IRHR 1001 Managing the Organisation IRHR 3510 Human Resource Development MNGT 3150 International Business Issues and Cases; Postgraduate ARBE 6605 Policy and Social Considerations in Disaster Management (Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment), GSBS 6100 Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, GSBS 6009 Cross-Cultural Management GSBS 6483 Cross-Cultural Negotiation and Management GSBS 6480 International Business Environment.
I have also facilitated Peer Assisted Writing Circles for RHD students in 2008-9 and 2013.
2016 - Member of the Blended Learning Working Group and NSB WEBLEARN Working Group2016 - Co-organiser of the RHD student Research Colloquium to be held in December 2016.
2015 - 2016 Facilitator for the establishment of WISED (Workshop on Institutional and Socio-Economic Development), organising research seminars and development of research grant applications.
2009-2010 Postgraduate Student Representative at the Faculty Board
My academic research interests has focused on regional industry clusters, small business communities, how they collaborate, how knowledge is created and shared as well as how external changes may challenge or lead to successful business clustering and/or regional development. It has further developed along a path of understanding environmental issues confronting and initiatives taken by small rural businesses. And last it seeks to examine to what degree environmental initiatives can provide competitive advantage for rural industry clusters, agriculture and tourism, in particular related to wine/grape and also cider/apple and tourism. 2014 – on-going Part of the “Organisational Collaboration Research Group” in the “Regional collaboration with a focus on wine industry clusters” Working with Associate Professor Rebecca Mitchell (UON), historian Dr. Julie McIntyre, Professor John Burgess (Curtin University). http://www.newcastle.edu.au/research-and-innovation/centre/business-law/ocrg/research/industry-based-collaboration Part of the Wine Studies Research Network, located in the Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle, headed by Professor John Germov. Working with historian Dr. Julie McIntyre on aspects of innovation and environmental sustainability in the Hunter Valley Wine Region. http://www.newcastle.edu.au/research-and-innovation/centre/education-arts/wine-research/about-us 2013-2015 Exploring small accommodation businesses perception of Gloucester and environmental change. Dr. Po-Hsin Lai (UON), Prof. Kevin Lyons (UON), Dr. Sidsel Grimstad (UON), Ass. Prof. Susan Moore (Murdoch University) Ass.Prof Angus Morrison-Saunders (Murdoch University) 2013-2015 Exploring the effect of coal seam gas exploration and production on Gloucester residents Research team: Dr. Po-Hsin Lai (UON), Sidsel Grimstad, Prof. Kevin Lyons (UON) and Prof. Gerard Kyle, Texas A&M University 2008-2013 Germany-Australia Research Project on Clusters and Regional Innovation Professors John Burgess (UON), Susanne Royer (Flensburg University), Marion Festing (Berlin University) and Kerry Brown (QUT).
- Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
- Master of Business Administration, University of Newcastle
- Master of Arts, University of Western Sydney
- Cluster research, Regional development, Social Capital and Regional development,Comparative methods, Environmental Management,
- Institutional Theory
- Management/HRM - Managing Diversity, Cross-Cultural Management, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution,Social and Policy Considerations in Disaster management,
- Norwegian (Fluent)
Fields of Research
|050299||Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified||25|
|150399||Business and Management not elsewhere classified||50|
|160404||Urban and Regional Studies (excl. Planning)||25|
|Title||Organisation / Department|
|Lecturer||University of Newcastle
Newcastle Business School
Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award, Faculty of Business and Law
University of Newcastle - Faculty of Business and Law
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Chapter (3 outputs)
Grimstad S, Burgess J, 'A comparison of two agriculture based tourism micro-clusters in Norway and Australia.', Resources and competitive advantage of clusters, Rainer Hampp Verlag, Munchen 66-96 (2013) [B1]
Grimstad S, 'The Apple Tourism Cluster, Hardanger, Norway', Value Adding Webs and Clusters. Concepts and Cases, Rainer Hampp Verlag, Munchen 102-126 (2010) [B1]
|2003||Grimstad S, Sevatdal H, 'Norwegian Commons: History, Status and Challenges', Commons: Old and New, Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim 93-132 (2003)|
Journal article (5 outputs)
Lai PH, Morrison-Saunders A, Grimstad S, 'Operating small tourism firms in rural destinations: A social representations approach to examining how small tourism firms cope with non-tourism induced changes', Tourism Management, 58 164-174 (2017)
Â© 2016 Elsevier LtdThis study explores the representation that owners and managers of small tourism firms ascribe to their rural destination and how non-tourism induced changes i... [more]
Â© 2016 Elsevier LtdThis study explores the representation that owners and managers of small tourism firms ascribe to their rural destination and how non-tourism induced changes interfere with this representation and motivate coping as guided by social representations theory. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty-four owners and/or managers of at least one small accommodation property in Gloucester, New South Wales, Australia. The informants became involved in the area's accommodation sector primarily driven by the lifestyle goals embedded in their representation of Gloucester. The perception that mining-induced changes might transform Gloucester into a mining town as opposed to its current representation as a town with a mine has motivated many informants to cope. However, coping is impeded by feelings of powerlessness, perceived uncertainties, and distrust in both government and industry. The findings provide preliminary insight into why and how small tourism firm owners/managers cope when faced with change from the perspective of social representations.
Lai PH, Lyons KD, Gudergan SP, Grimstad S, 'Understanding the psychological impact of unconventional gas developments in affected communities', Energy Policy, 101 492-501 (2017) [C1]
Grimstad S, Burgess J, 'Environmental sustainability and competitive advantage in a wine tourism micro-cluster', Management Research Review, 37 553-573 (2014) [C1]
Purpose: The paper aims to examine the competitive advantage of the environmental behaviour at a firm level and micro-cluster level, building the analysis on Harts model of natura... [more]
Purpose: The paper aims to examine the competitive advantage of the environmental behaviour at a firm level and micro-cluster level, building the analysis on Harts model of natural resource-based view of the firm and by using Brown et al.'s framework for analysing contextual resources that would provide locational advantage based on environmental behaviour. The case study examines the drivers and the obstacles to environmental action and demonstrates how clustering has been important in progressing a sustainability agenda. Design/methodology/approach: A case study of a single wine tourism cluster in Australia is undertaken using mixed methods. Findings: The main drivers for environmental action are genuine concerns for the environment by the cluster participants, especially water conservation in the Australian context. Supporting this is the co-ordination of the Lovedale Chamber of Commerce which has promoted its "greening Lovedale" project as a source of regional identity and potential competitive advantage. The obstacles to action are those that are present when small firms dominate, a lack of resources and a lack of know how. Through clustering small businesses can share resources, access specialists and share knowledge. Research limitations/implications: A single cluster case study within the Australian and the wine tourism context confined to one point in time. Practical implications: The clustering of firms in agricultural regions offers the opportunity to achieve individual and collective benefits. Clustering participation can reduce costs, achieve scale economies and share knowledge. These advantages are relevant for environmental actions. In the context of weak or absent government actions and regulations over the environment, regional clusters can utilise the advantages of clustering to meet environmental goals. These in turn can contribute to regional identity and regional comparative advantage. These issues are addressed through the study of the Lovedale wine cluster in Australia. Originality/value: There are few studies of how clustered agricultural industries are addressing environmental challenges independently of central government directives or subsidies. Clustering enables small firms to participate in environmental programs despite being faced by resource and knowledge shortages. Â© Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Grimstad S, 'The use of English in institutional and business settings: An intercultural perspective', Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 30 179-181 (2009) [C3]
|Show 2 more journal articles|
Review (1 outputs)
Grimstad S, 'Book Review : Backpacker tourism and economic development. Perspectives from the less developed world (2015)
Conference (7 outputs)
Grimstad S, Lai P-H, 'For and against CSG? Social representations of CSG in the Public Media' (2015) [E3]
|2013||Grimstad S, Lai P, Lyons K, Kyle G, 'Coping with environmental change. Exploring the impact of coal seam gas mining on Australian rural communities.', Abstracts booklet and database (2013) [E3]|
Grimstad S, Lai P-H, Lyons K, Kyle G, 'Exploring the impact of extractive industries on an Australian rural community.', Conference booklet (2013) [E3]
|2012||Burgess J, Grimstad S, 'Environmental sustainability and competitive advantage in a wine tourism micro-cluster', Proceedings of the 26th Annual Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference (2012) [E3]|
|2009||Grimstad S, 'Examining business-driven environmental sustainability initiatives in agriculture based tourism clusters in Norway and Australia', 'The Business of Wine': The Inaugural Wine Business Research Symposium: Conference Proceedings (2009) [E1]|
|2009||Grimstad S, 'Using a cultural values framework to examine Nordic and Anglo-Saxon traits of organising', Labour, Capital and Change: Proceedings of the 23rd Conference of the Association of Industrial Relations Academics of Australia and New Zealand (2009) [E2]|
|Show 4 more conferences|
Report (1 outputs)
|2007||Grimstad S, Sevatdal H, 'Norwegian Commons - A brief account of history, status and challenges', Noragric, Centre for International Environmental and Development Studies, 51 (2007)|
Thesis / Dissertation (1 outputs)
|2013||Grimstad S, Business Driven Environmental Action in Agricultural Based Micro-Clusters in Norway and Australia., University of Newcastle (2013)|
Number of supervisions
Total current UON EFTSL
|Commenced||Level of Study||Research Title||Program||Supervisor Type|
|2016||PhD||Business Culture in Emerging Economies; A Study Exploring Cultural Challenges of Conducting Business in Uganda||PhD (Management), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
|2016||PhD||Elements of national culture and their effects on job commitment in organizations in Vietnam||PhD (Management), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
|2015||PhD||Sustainability and growth in regional Australia: Developing innovation theory and policy using complexity perspective||Business & Management, Faculty of Business and Law, University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
|Year||Level of Study||Research Title||Program||Supervisor Type|
|2016||PhD||Sustainability and Growth in Regional Australia: Developing Innovation Theory and Policy Using a Complexity Perspective||PhD (Management), Faculty of Business and Law, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
Proximity, Knowledge-sharing and Innovation in the Swan Valley Wine Region, Perth, WA 2016 - 2020