Aligning Agri-food Business with Sustainable Development and Quality of Life in Rural Areas: Stakeholders' Perspectives from Greece


  • Nikolaos Apostolopoulos University of Peloponnese
  • Ilias Makris University of Peloponnese
  • Sotiris Apostolopoulos Neapolis University Pafos
  • Eleni Anastasopoulou University of Peloponnese
  • Georgios Deirmentzoglou Neapolis University Pafos



agri-food enterprises, sustainable developmentrural areas


The present study examined how the agri-food enterprises in Greece affect the socio-economic life of rural areas and contribute to ensuring food security. It sought the extent of their contribution to the revitalization of the local community and residents’ quality of life. Furthermore, it focused on the policy measures needed to ensure that their operation protects the environment and reduces their environmental footprint. Additionally, this research explored agri-food enterprises’ impact in addressing the problems of rural societies in the context of their social responsibility. Qualitative research was conducted through semi-structured interviews with twelve central government and local self-administrative executives who formulate policies that shape or influence the agri-food sector and agri-food enterprises The study revealed that agri-food businesses play a major role in the rural economy. At the same time, they are a key factor in linking sustainable development to the well-being of citizens. It was also highlighted that agri-food enterprises in Greece continue to leave a large negative environmental footprint and therefore a change in the framework of existing policies is needed to make the latter effective. In this regard, measures are needed to support agri-food enterprises with certain financial instruments in order to enhance the reduction of their environmental footprint. Finally, the research indicated the need for further strengthening of agri-food enterprises' social responsibility toward rural residents. The contribution of this research has both theoretical and empirical value. It responds to the recent calls for greater investigation of agri-food enterprises and their contributions to sustainable development and rural residents’ quality of life as well. In this respect, the present primary study adds evidence to the international literature regarding the role of agri-food enterprises in the socio-economic life of rural areas by shedding light on various aspects while the findings can be used by the institutions (European, state, and local authorities) that are responsible for policy-making in the agri-food sector and agri-food enterprises respectively. Moreover, the findings can also be a valuable tool for the business world of agri-food entrepreneurship.

Author Biographies

Nikolaos Apostolopoulos, University of Peloponnese

Nikolaos Apostolopoulos is an Assistant Professor in European Policies in Sustainability, Development and Entrepreneurship and Director of the Laboratory of European Sustainable Development Policies at the University of Peloponnese. He also acts as a Scientific Advisor at the Labour Institute of the General Confederation of Greek Employees (INE-GSEE). His research publications focus on entrepreneurship, social challenges and EU development policies.

Ilias Makris, University of Peloponnese

Ilias Makris is a Professor in Financial Analysis, Dep. of Accounting and Finance, University of Peloponnese, Greece. His PhD analyze the Financing of Innovation from Greek Banking sector and his recent scientific interests include firm financial performance, exporting activity, R&D and Macroeconomics of the Eurozone.

Sotiris Apostolopoulos, Neapolis University Pafos

Dr Sotiris Apostolopoulos acts as Coordinator of the Bachelor Program in Business Administration at the University Neapolis Pafos. He specialises in rural entrepreneurship, European policies and the socio-economic development of the rural areas with emphasis on private and social health enterprises. In the past, he served as Chief Operating Officer at the largest regional private hospital of the Peloponnese Region in Greece.

Georgios Deirmentzoglou, Neapolis University Pafos

Dr Georgios Deirmentzoglou is a Lecturer in Business Administration at Neapolis University Pafos. He holds a PhD in Business Administration from the University of Piraeus, an MBA in Total Quality Management and a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Management and Technology. His research interests include Entrepreneurship, Culture, and Sustainable Development.