Methodology of research[1] used for the project

The research methodology for the value proposition validation utilises an inductive process (partial survey): based on data concerning a sample, the results obtained are possibly valid for the entire collective. The method employs a combination of in-depth qualitative interviews and a supplementary survey to gather quantitative insights.

The qualitative interview is provoked and guided by the interviewer, aimed at subjects already chosen, based on a flexible and non-standardised questionnaire scheme. The quantitative interview has a rigid approach, with a standardised questioning scheme.

The primary tool for data collection is interviews, conducted with diverse participants, including companies from Italy, Romania, Greece, and the Netherlands. The secondary tool is a structured survey. The selection process for respondents in this research was carried out considering three factors: availability, geographical location, and relevance. It has been interviewed a sample of five actors, represented 4 companies and 1 association in the road transportation sector. Only one voluntary survey has been completed through an online form. The different perspectives of the participants ensured a comprehensive exploration of the research topic and provided a rich and insightful understating of the matter.

Four semi-structured interviews have been conducted, two of which have been conducted, reviewed, and analysed by the team, starting from a set of questions previously discussed and keeping the interview flexible enough to ensure adaptability.

The interview guides were personalised for SMEs and large companies. The same strategy has been also used to develop the online forms that the research team published on LinkedIn.

Since the interviewees were in different areas of the EU, the interviews were carried out via digital platforms like Microsoft Teams. The interviews were recorded and transcribed; consent was obtained from all participants days before the interviews. The interviews lasted between 30 and 60 minutes and notes were taken on Microsoft Word. Since the names of the interviewees and their organisations are not disclosed, a coded table for in-text references is provided.

Participants Interview method Interviewee Role Code for in-text references
Company 1 Online semi-structured interview Chief Executive Officer C1
Company 2 Online semi-structured interview 1. General Manager
2. Owner
Company 3 Online semi-structured interview 1. Sales Manager
2. Owner
Company 4 Online survey Not disclosed C4
Company 5 Online semi-structured interview Sustainability Specialist C5

Table 1 – List of interviewees.

Interviews feedback

The comprehensive feedback collected from the interviews indicates several insights, including distinctions in the level of awareness between LC (large companies) and SMEs within the road transport sector. This validates the importance of using educational tools. An interesting understanding regards voluntary reporting, in particular, SMEs acting reluctant unless mandated by law, while LC proves proactivity. This reiterates the needed approach of engaging LC to encourage SMEs to embrace reporting standards. The biggest challenge faced by SMEs is to identify pertinent reporting parameters, underlining the importance of standard templates.

Large companies, instead, struggle to collect comparable data from their suppliers, remarking on the necessity for a centralized platform to standardize reporting activities. The use of different ESG ratings and frameworks reinforces the idea of creating a tool that functions independently or integrates seamlessly with existing platforms, to address different needs of companies in the sector. The attitude observed in the companies interviewed reveals the absence of planning in the medium and long term. Finally, the importance of enhanced communication among Road Transportation Companies (RTC) is stressed.

In particular, C1 from Italy demonstrates an awareness of sustainability directives and engages in reporting. C2 from Romania, instead, appears to be less inclined to adopt external platforms, preferring embedded ESG reporting in its software. C3 from Greece lacks awareness of EU directives and struggles to make voluntary changes. C4, also based in Greece, stands out with its awareness of directives and positive behaviour in using reporting platforms. Lastly, C5 from the Netherlands demonstrates a medium level of awareness, underscoring the importance of collaboration between entities. This feedback reflects a wide spectrum of behaviours, flagging different approaches and responses.

[1] All the information and tables featured in this paragraph are specifically Nicole’s contribution, directly from her individual final report, written about the whole project work, with focus on her personal involvement.

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