Sustainability and Entrepreneurship

Contents

Sustainability

Entrepreneurship

Ecopreneurship

Social Entrepreneurship

Corporate Sustainability

Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Additional Resources

Notes

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Sustainability

While debate continues regarding the appropriate level of government intervention via regulation in the marketplace, one area in which government involvement appears to be steadily increasing is social conduct.  At the same time, consumers are demanding greater transparency on environmental and social matters from the companies asking them to purchase their products and services and investors are incorporating social responsibly into their assessments of the overall performance of portfolio companies.[1]  These trends have served as the catalyst for interest in “sustainable entrepreneurship”, which has been described as the continuing commitment by businesses to behave ethically and contribute to economic development (e.g., job creation that increases disposable income that generates tax revenues that can be invested in projects focused on sustainable development) while improving the quality of life of the workforce, their families, the local and global community as well as future generations.[2]  Sustainable entrepreneurship should be carried out using a sustainable business model that does not deplete resources, but rather replenishes them (e.g., natural resources, human resources, knowledge and technology foundations etc.), and creates value and material and non-material wealth (i.e., well being and happiness) for all stakeholders through actions which are ethical and just.  Sustainable entrepreneurship, and any sustainable business model, is based on acceptance of the principle that long-term environmental and social outcomes and impact are just as important as short-term economic objectives.

In order to understand the particular definition and description of “sustainable entrepreneurship” used in this publication, it is necessary to work through the evolution of the concept of sustainability that has occurred over the last several decades.  Writers and activists from the 1970s and 1980s brought attention to concerns about the impact that economic growth would have on the Earth’s finite natural resources.  Proponents of what was often referred to as the “limits of growth” theory argued that unchecked consumption and economic growth would eventually lead to the planet’s downfall and disaster.[3]  Specific problems included accelerating industrialization, rapid population growth, widespread malnutrition, depletion of non-renewable resources and a deteriorating environment. Opponents countered with faith in the ability that technological change and market signals would allow economic growth to continue without the predicted dire consequences (e.g., as natural resources became scarce, market prices would increase to the point where demand would decrease, thus preserving the scarce resources).  While the two sides could not reach agreement—opponents also issued scathing critiques of the data and methodology used to support the theory, the issue of the boundaries of the maximum sustainable scale of usage of natural resources came into sharper focus and the debate has led to several different types and conceptualizations of “sustainability” that have become the basis for fields of academic research and organizational activities.

Sustainability had its beginnings at the level of the “household” and its ability to produce and reproduce everything that was needed in order to sustain the livelihood of its members.[4]  Leal Filho observed that the term “sustainability” has been traditionally used as synonyms for “long-term”, “durable”, “sound” or “systematic”.[5]  Rey provided several basic definitions of “sustainability”:

“In the literal sense, sustainable refers to, “of relation to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged”. Alternatively, it is “of relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods”, both according to the Webster’s dictionary. The Chambers Concise Dictionary defines the root word of sustainability – sustain – among other things, as “to hold up, to bear, to support, to provide for, to maintain, to prolong, to support the life of” – selecting the definitions that fundamentally define sustainability at its core (emphasis added by original author).”[6]

In recent decades, the understanding of sustainability in both theory and practice has been influenced by three main groups: ecologists, the United Nation’s World Commission on Environment and Development, often referred to as the “Brundtland Commission”, and business strategists.[7]  In the 1970s and 1980s, sustainability was embraced by various ecological movements interested in balancing consumption and regeneration in nature and ensuring that natural resources were not abused and overused such that they were not as abundant for future citizens of the world, a cause that ultimately led to the emergence of interest in “sustainable development”. Ecologists have traditionally focused on the ecological dimension of sustainability, generally recognized as a desire to protect the natural environment and prevent over-exploitation of natural and environmental resources.  In 1987 the Brundtland Commission convened by the United Nations added a social dimension to the discussion of sustainability by defining sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  In general, definitions of sustainability introduced during this period stressed justice in and between generations with respect to use and stewardship of natural resources.[8]

Sustainability first entered the realm of strategic management in 1980s when it was proposed that organizations could achieve a “sustainable competitive advantage” by employing valuable, rare, imperfectly imitable and difficult to substitute resources in a manner that would enhance their economic sustainability.[9]  A more radical infusion of sustainability at the corporate business level began to take shape in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the popularization of the “triple-bottom-line”, which was based on the proposition that the long-term success of businesses (i.e., their sustainable growth and development) depended on satisfaction of three conditions, all of which needed to be given equal consideration by management: environmental integrity, economic prosperity and social equity.[10] This concept evolved into “corporate sustainability” and “corporate social responsibility” based on purposeful selection and use of sustainable business practices that mixed the traditional pursuit of economic profits with simultaneous attention to identify and meeting the demands and concerns of a wide range of stakeholders beyond the owners of the corporation.[11]  Daly argued that while there was no single universally accepted definition of sustainability, there should be little dispute that it is “both morally and economically wrong to treat the world as a business in liquidation” when engaging in commercial activities.[12]  For further discussion see Principles for Sustainable Business.

In summary, “sustainability” has taken on a number of different meanings and has become a widely used term in a wide array of scientific, social, economic and political contexts.  Stankeviciute and Savaneviciene noted that sustainability is regularly used to describe each of the following[13]:

  • The systematic, long-term use of natural resources so that they are available for future generations, the concept famously defined by the Brundtland Commission in the late 1980s (i.e., development is “sustainable” when it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs);
  • The modality of development that enables countries to progress economically and socially, without destroying their environmental resources (i.e. “sustainable development”) (for further discussion see Definitions of Sustainable Development);
  • The type of development which is ethically acceptable, morally fair, socially just, and economically sound; and
  • The type of development where environmental and social indicators are as important as economic indicators.

To learn more see Business and Sustainable Development.

The term is also often used in contexts that combine two or more of the above-mentioned concepts.  For example, Schuler and Jackson integrated the Brundtland Commission definition into the business world by arguing that an organization’s success requires meeting the present demands of multiple stakeholders while also anticipating their future needs.[14]  In addition, sustainability is transforming thinking in a number of management fields such as human resources management (“HRM”), where employees are no longer seen as simply tools to be used to achieve financial goals but also as resources to be valued and preserved so that they can continue to make contributions to their companies, families and the general community.  As a result, HRM professionals are beginning to see HRM as both a “means” for achieving an organization’s sustainability-based strategic objectives and an “end”, or objective, in its own right.  Specifically, HRM professionals are expected to train and direct employees in carrying out their individual roles and responsibilities with respect to sustainability (i.e., HRM as a “means”) and initiate and administer programs and practices that enhance the long-term physical, social and economic well-being of employees (i.e., HRM as an “end”).[15]

In many ways, the definition of sustainable development proposed by the Brundtland Commission was vague and ambiguous; however, commentators eventually began to focus on what became known as the three pillars, or dimensions, of sustainable development: environmental protection, economic development and social equity.[16]  Many of them argued that environmentally-conscious, or sustainable, businesses should pursue environmental, economic and social objectives simultaneously and conduct their operations ethically with sustainable environmental, economic and social dimensions embedded within their products, processes and services.[17]  This approach has often been referred to as the “triple bottom-line”, a nod to the notion that businesses should expand their traditional focus on the financial “bottom-line” as the measure of performance to include ecological and social impact.  For further discussion see Understanding the Triple Bottom-Line.  From time to time, others have suggested that additional dimensions of sustainability should be recognized and integrated into a model along with the first three dimensions.  For example, a cultural dimension would take into account the need for sustainable businesses to sustain traditional or indigenous knowledge, maintain cultural diversity and prevent the loss of personal and community identify.[18]  Racelis argued that sustainable development was, by its very nature, an ethically motivated normative concept and thus it was essential to include an ethical domain in any framework or model of sustainable entrepreneurship.[19] For further discussion see Dimensions of Sustainability.

For further discussion of sustainability, see Sustainability prepared and distributed by the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project.

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Entrepreneurship

Few topics in the business area have attracted more attention among academics and journalists than “entrepreneurship”.  From an economic perspective, “entrepreneurship” is generally conceptualized as the creation of a new business and the bearing of the risk associated with that business in exchange for profits to be derived from the exploitation of opportunities in the marketplace (e.g., demands of consumers that are not currently being satisfied).  Defined in this manner, entrepreneurship can take a variety of different forms.  One of the most famous types of entrepreneurship, one that has also become closely aligned with conceptualizations of various forms of entrepreneurship, is Schumpeter’s “creative destruction”.  In Schumpeter’s view, the entrepreneur is driven by innovation, which can take the form of a totally new product or process or an innovative change to existing products or processes, which ultimately “destroy”, or render obsolete, products and processes that have been used in the past.  While entrepreneurship is often discussed in the context of policies for encouraging and supporting small businesses, Graham observed that entrepreneurship differs from small business in four critical ways: amount of wealth creation, speed of wealth accumulation, risk and innovation.[20]

Research regarding “entrepreneurship” has been made challenging by the absence of a consistent definition of the term across the universe of studies on the topic.[21]  According to Stokes et al., the concept of entrepreneurship has existed for centuries and has been important to the development of modern economic and social life.[22]  The term itself has been linked to the French word “entreprendre”, which means “to undertake” or “to do something”, and early definitions and descriptions of the concept can be found in works of economists going back as far as the 18th century (e.g., Cantillon, Adam Smith, Say, John Stuart Mill, and Hermann).[23]  For example, one of the first uses of the term “entrepreneur” has been attributed to Cantillon, who wrote in the 18th century about individuals who bought materials and means of production at prices that enabled them to combine them into a new product.[24]

Many researchers have focused on the economic function served by the entrepreneur.  For example, one of the earliest definitions of entrepreneurship focused on merchants who were willing to assume the risks of purchasing items at certain prices while there was uncertainty about the prices at which those items could eventually be resold.  Later definitions began to focus on the risks and challenges associated with combining various factors of production to generate outputs that would be made available for sale in constantly changing markets.  Schumpeter was one of the first to include innovation in the definition of entrepreneurship and believed strongly that the proper role of the entrepreneur was creating and responding to economic discontinuities. Others involved in the study of entrepreneurship focus on the personality traits and life experiences of the entrepreneur in an attempt to generate lists of common entrepreneurial characteristics—propensity for “risk taking”, need for achievement and childhood deprivation. While these studies are interesting they have generally been far from conclusive and often have generated conflicting results.

Gartner surveyed the landscape of the attempts to define entrepreneurship and concluded that finding a common definition of the entrepreneur remains “elusive”.[25]  Garner quoted an observation made by Cole in 1969: “My own personal experience was that for ten years we ran a research center in entrepreneurial history, for ten years we tried to define the entrepreneur.  We never succeeded.  Each of us had some notion of it—what he thought was, for his purposes, a useful definition.  And I don’t think you’re going to get farther than that”.[26]  Garder also pointed out that Borkchuas and Horwitz, who reviewed the literature on the psychology of the entrepreneur in the mid-1980s, struck a similar note when they reported: “The literature appears to support the argument that there is no generic definition of the entrepreneur, or if there is we do not have the psychological instruments to discover it at this time.  Most of the attempts to distinguish between entrepreneurs and small business owners or managers have discovered no significant differentiating features”.[27]

Acknowledging the lack of a universally accepted definition of entrepreneurship, Hessels did comment that “[t]here seems to be agreement . . . that entrepreneurship involves the creation of something new”.[28]  For Gartner, that “something new” was a “new organization” and he suggested that the most fruitful path for studying entrepreneurship was to view it as a process that includes a series of behaviors and activities intended to create organizations.[29]  Davidsson et al. referred to entrepreneurship as “the creation of new economic activity” that occurs both through the creation of new ventures and new economic activity of established firms.[30]  Use of the concept of “creation of new economic activity” includes not only the creation of new organizations championed by Gartner but also recognition and exploitation of opportunities, conversion of new ideas into innovations and even imitative behavior that is new to a firm.[31]  It is not necessary that the same person or entity that discovered an opportunity actually exploit that opportunity and entrepreneurship should be defined broadly enough to include the sale of opportunities to others.  For that matter, discovery of a new technology should not be a prerequisite to entrepreneurship with respect to that opportunity and the concept of entrepreneurship should include actions taken to interpret the capabilities of the technology so as to identify applications of the technology that eventually become the foundation of opportunities.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (“GEM”), a partnership between London Business School and Babson College that has been administering a comprehensive research program since 1999 to produce annual assessments of national levels of entrepreneurial activity, broadly defines entrepreneurship to include “… any attempt at new business or new venture creation, such as self-employment, a new business organization, or the expansion of an existing business, by an individual, teams of individuals, or established businesses”.[32]  J.G. Burch, who has written extensively on the subject, has referred to entrepreneurship as the “initiation of change” and the “process of giving birth to a new business.”[33]  Burch has also developed a list of the following categories of innovations that tend to be the specific byproducts of entrepreneurial activities: introduction of a new product or service that is an improvement in the quality of an existing product or service; introduction of a new process or method that increases productivity; the opening of a new market, particularly an export market in a new territory; the conquest of a new source of supply of raw materials, half-manufactured products or alternative materials; and the creation of a new organization.

For further discussion see Definitions of Entrepreneurship.

The development of thought on the consequences and purposes and goals of entrepreneurship have led to an expansion of the field based on new and different ideas about the processes, behaviors and outcomes associated with entrepreneurship.  Among other things, the recent growing recognition of social and environmental issues, and the accompanying opportunities to develop innovation solutions to problems in each of those areas, has led to the emergence of several new types or categories of entrepreneurs in addition to traditional commercial entrepreneurs: environmental entrepreneurs, or ecopreneurs; social entrepreneurs; and sustainable entrepreneurs.[34]  Majid and Koe noted that the emergence of these new categories and the expanded focus of entrepreneurs beyond economic considerations represented a significant transition in entrepreneurship from the early 1970s when Friedman, one of the leading economists of his day, went on record as saying that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits”.[35] For further discussion see Types of Entrepreneurship.

Another sub-class of entrepreneurs, often referred to as “growth-oriented entrepreneurs” or “high-growth entrepreneurs”, has attracted the interest of researchers and policymakers.  Growth-oriented entrepreneurs can be identified and distinguished by their aspirations relating to job creation, innovation and internationalization, all of which have been positively related to the economic development that is important to so many governments (for further discussion see Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.[36]  Acs and Szerb, the creators of the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index, argued that international rankings of entrepreneurial activities in various countries should place more weight and importance on the amount of entrepreneurial activity directed toward innovation, high-impact entrepreneurship and globalization and have focused their research on international entrepreneurship and “the efforts of the early-stage entrepreneur to introduce new products and services, develop new production processes, penetrate foreign markets, substantially increase the number of firm employees, and finance the business with either formal or informal venture capital, or both”.[37]  For further discussion see Characteristics of Growth-Oriented Entrepreneurs and Growth-Oriented Entrepreneurship prepared and distributed by the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project.

Entrepreneurship is widely celebrated as an engine for progress that brings growth to the economy, makes the marketplace more competitive, makes individual firms more productive through technological change and creates jobs and added value and welfare for members of society.  However, while entrepreneurship is generally lauded for the positive impacts and benefits it has provided to society, it is also true that entrepreneurial activities can have negative consequences such as environmental degradation or unequal distribution of wealth.[38]  Recognizing this situation, there have been calls among researchers for entrepreneurial skills and processes to be applied to mitigate and resolve some of the problems that entrepreneurs may have created, an idea which provides the foundation for ecopreneurship, social entrepreneurship and sustainable entrepreneurship.[39]  For example, Hall et al. argued that “entrepreneurship may be a panacea for many social and environmental concerns” and Pacheco et al. asserted that entrepreneurs can be an important force for social and ecological sustainability.[40]

For further discussion of entrepreneurship, see Entrepreneurship prepared and distributed by the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project.

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Ecopreneurship

Interest in sustainable development has arisen from concerns about the impact that economic growth would have on the Earth’s finite natural resources and some of the parties involved in that debate argued that while overuse was an issue it would eventually be addressed through market forces.  According the York and Venkataraman, there are several different ways that environmental degradation can be addressed[41]:

  • Government regulation and control, the so-called “visible hand”; however, while the government has promulgated an expansive portfolio of regulations over the last several decades environmental degradation has continued to occur;
  • Stakeholder activism, such as lobbying action by non-governmental organizations focusing on perseveration of natural resources;
  • Corporate social responsibility initiatives launched by individual corporations on their own initiative as ethics-based programs to address environmental problems they are responsible for or have association with—initiatives that have been critiqued as being more about doing “less bad” than doing good; and
  • Other forms of corporate action which include cost savings and differentiation with an important goal of gain a competitive advantage by implementing environmentally friendly practices (e.g., creating a positive public image by being perceived as a “green business”).

Going down a path on which market forces would eventually address the environmental problems that the market itself created, Gibbs explained the concept of “ecological modernization”, which he described as a process of the progressive transformation and modernization of the institutions of modern society in order to avoid ecological crisis.[42]  In this view, it was not just market forces that would “save the Earth”, but also the inert drive of capitalism for innovation that would be harnessed to realize environmental improvements, thus allowing the world to continue forward with “modernization” undeterred by environmental crises.[43]  According to Roberts and Colwell: “ecological modernization suggests that it is possible to integrate the goals of economic development, social welfare and environmental protection, and that through this reconciliation synergies will be generated which can be harnessed and put to good use”.[44]

While appealing, there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that ecological modernization is inevitable and it would certainly require cooperation and participation by various actors.  Incumbent businesses in the private sector would presumably consider acting in order to gain various advantages: through greater business efficiency due to reduced pollution and waste production; avoiding future financial liabilities, such as the potential cost of contaminated land clean-up; through improved recruitment and retention of the workforce due to the creation of a better work environment; from the potential for increased sales of more “environmentally friendly” products and services; and through the sale of pollution prevention and abatement technologies.[45] As for political institutions, several measures would seem to be appropriate: restructuring of production and consumption towards ecological goals, including the development and diffusion of clean production technologies; decoupling economic development from the relevant resource inputs, resource use and emissions; exploring alternative and innovative approaches to environmental policy, such as “economizing ecology’ by placing an economic value on nature and introducing structural tax reform; and integrating environmental policy goals into other policy areas; and the invention, adoption and diffusion of new technologies and production processes.[46]

In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development of the United Nations (generally referred to simply as the “Brundtland Commission”), issued a report which described sustainable development as “a process in which the exploitation of natural resources, the allocation of investments and the process of technological development and organizational change are in harmony with each other for both current and future generations”.[47]  The publication of the report fueled what quickly became a comprehensive dialogue on the impact that economic growth was having on the global environment and biodiversity.  The early 1990s saw the adoption of extensive new environmental regulations and the emergence of what was referred to as the “green agenda”.[48] Corporate social responsibility was also becoming more important and businesses were beginning to see that integrating ecological concerns into their business models could not only be popular with consumers but also help them reduce costs and the risks associated with operations that might be harmful to surrounding communities and the world generally.  Given these changes in behavioral patterns and the rise of social institutions concerned with protecting the environment, the scene was set for the emergence of environmental entrepreneurship, or “ecopreneurship”, which often took the form of startups based on more sustainable business models and deploying processes reflecting greater concern for environmental and, and latterly more social issues. [49]   Like traditional entrepreneurs, ecopreneurs sought to satisfy unmet needs or identify an unresolved problem in the marketplace; however, while traditional entrepreneurs focused on generating economic value, with creating social value being ancillary, an ecopreneur is a mission-driven individual “who starts up a business with ‘green’ initiatives from day one, with strong commitment to transforming a sector of the economy towards becoming more sustainable and environmentally responsible”.[50] Ecopreneurship offered another path to addressing issues of environmental degradation and ecopreneurs did not just run a “green business” but incorporated innovation into a mission that focused on creating value for sustainable development with products and services that not only generated economic growth but also created societal benefits.

Researchers noted that ecological modernization was arguably an area particularly well suited to entrepreneurial action by ecopreneurs.[51]  While ecopreneurs have been described as “social activists, who aspire to restructure the corporate culture and social relations of their business sectors through proactive, ecologically oriented business strategies”[52], they are also able to attack and address environmental issues using the Schumpeterian “process of creative destruction” that includes creating new products, services, processes and “ways of doing work” that challenge, and eventually overturn, conventional methods.[53]  As explained by Schaltegger: “ecopreneurs destroy existing conventional production methods, products, market structures and consumption patterns and replace them with superior environmental products and services … [and] … create the market dynamics of environmental progress.”[54]  The businesses that they form have been referred to by Isaak as “green-green businesses”, firms that have been founded from the outset on an environmentally friendly basis and with a focused mission on achieving social and ethical transformation of their specific business sectors.[55]

It has been argued that the emergence and success of ecopreneurship has turned on the ability of ecopreneurs to exploit sources of opportunity such as uncertainty and market failure.  There is significant uncertainty with respect to the environment and multiple stakeholders continuously struggle to find solutions for problems such as environmental degradation, pollution, waste and contamination and resource depletion.  While incumbent companies recognize these problems, they are often reluctant to invest in the development of innovative solutions due to the opportunity costs of their current investments.  In contrast, ecoentrepreneurs are willing and eager to accept uncertainty in exchange for the possibility of being rewarded with a premium and also do not have to worry about diminishing the value of their previous investments.  Environmental degradation is also a form of market failure: government regulations, subsidies and incentives have proven to be inappropriate and ineffective interventions in many cases and traditional commercial entrepreneurs have struggled to appropriate the gains emanating from their investments in new environmental technology and convince consumers to pay for the related products and services.  Ecopreneurs have been successful where the government and commercial entrepreneurs have struggled by engaging customer-focused entrepreneurship that emphasizes identifying specific customer needs for environmental products and services and then addressing another form of market failure, imperfect information, by informing customers about the environmental attributes of products and services and the health and environment effect of methods of production, product contents, product use and post-consumption disposal.[56]  See Measuring Environmental Management Performance.

Bell and Stellingwerf noted that a variety of terms have been used to describe “entrepreneurship behavior conducted through an environmental lens” including eco-entrepreneurship, environmental entrepreneurship, Enviropreneurship, green entrepreneurship and green–green businesses.[57]  See Definitions and Conceptualizations of Environmental Entrepreneurship.  They preferred “ecopreneurship” and included the following examples of definitions and conceptualizations of that term[58]:

  • “A person who seeks to transform a sector of the economy towards sustainability by starting up a business in that sector with a green design, with green processes and with a life-long commitment to sustainability”.[59]
  • “Entrepreneurs who found new businesses based on the principle of sustainability – Ecopreneurs are those entrepreneurs who start for-profit businesses with strong underlying green values and who sell green products or services”.[60]
  • “Individuals or institutions that attempt to popularise eco-friendly ideas and innovations either through the market or non-market routes may be referred to as Ecopreneurs”.[61]
  • “Usually the Ecopreneur has a ‘raison d’ˆetre’ that exceeds their desire for profits and often this is associated with making the world a better place to live.”’[62]
  • “Ecopreneurs can be classified according to two criteria: (1) their desire to change the world and improve the quality of the environment and life; and (2) their desire to make money and grow as a business venture.”[63]
  • Ecopreneurs are visionaries, with the ability to foresee a “demand for fundamental innovations in traditional markets. The challenge is to be economically successful with the supply of products and services that change – on a purely voluntary basis – consumption patterns and market structures, leading to an absolute reduction of environmental impacts”.[64]
  • Ecopreneurs are effectively decisive change agents, enabling the world to change its path, are highly motivated in making a difference and displacing unsustainable means, an important transitional role in sustainability.[65]

To learn more, see Typologies of Ecopreneurs.

Bell and Stellingwerf argued that ecopreneurs filled gaps in the marketplace that could not be effectively addressed by large incumbent firms or traditional entrepreneurs.  While many established companies appreciate the importance of taking steps to operate in a more environmentally friendly manner, many feel that the sustainability strategies of these companies are “push” strategies driven by their need to comply with the demands of external regulatory bodies and other stakeholders.  In contrast, ecopreneurs act to implement “pull” strategies based on actively taking a stance towards becoming “greener” and building a competitive advantage over less “green” firms.[66]  As for distinctions between traditional entrepreneurship and ecopreneurship, the following words of Bell and Stellingwerf are instructive: “Entrepreneurs may effectively bring new combinations to the economy—i.e., new products, methods and markets.  However, it is the Ecopreneur who plays a critical role in the development process, constructing environmentally friendly products, processes, and services toward the sustainable development objective—‘development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.”[67]

While their small size and relative lack of resources appeared to make ecopreneurial startups unlikely candidates for transforming business sectors, many researchers believed that these startups were actually well positioned to identify and exploit innovative technological strategic niches that can not only bring about technological change but also challenge and pressure existing institutions, rules and norms.[68]  As explained by Smith, ecopreneurs are “the ‘idealists (producers and supportive users) who initiate a sustainable niche [and] are later joined by entrepreneurial ‘system builders’ who open the niche out to a wider set of users) and, eventually, by serious amounts of capital seeking to profit from the proto-regime”.[69]

For further discussion of ecopreneurship, see Ecopreneurship prepared and distributed by the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project.

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Social Entrepreneurship

According to Daft and Marcic, “social entrepreneurship” seeks to launch and build companies that are entirely focused on combining good business with good citizen and the leaders of these companies, the “social entrepreneurs”, are primarily interested in improving society rather than maximizing profits while nonetheless demanding high performance standards and accountability for results.[70] Examples of “for profit” social entrepreneurship run the gambit of commercial activities from partnering with traditional banks to offer microloans to small businesses in developing countries to launching manufacturing facilities in poor areas to provide jobs and produce products that can be distributed at no costs to community members to improve their lives.  While many of these businesses are not started with the intent to generate significant profits, a number of them have achieved impressive profits margins and market shares.  In addition, Tilley and Young observed that “the concept of social entrepreneur is very broadly interpreted to mean any organization that is operating in a not-for-profit capacity … [including] … community based organizations tackling education, poverty, health, welfare and well-being issues as well as organizations attempting to address environmental concerns relating to renewable energy, waste minimization, pollution abatement and water quality (to name a few)”.[71]

Austin et al defined social entrepreneurship as an “innovative, social value creating business activity that can occur within or across the non-profit, business, or government sectors”[72] and van Eijck observed that the “organizational form is usually based on the most attractive form to gain resources for the social mission”.[73]  Dees described social entrepreneurs as companies who play the role of change agents in the social sector by adopting a mission to create and sustain value (not just private value); recognizing and relentlessly pursuing new opportunities to serve that mission; engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaptation, and learning; acting boldly without being limited by resources currently in hand, and exhibiting a heightened sense of accountability to the constituencies served and for the outcomes created.[74]

When writing about social entrepreneurship, some researchers have largely ignored the economic outcomes associated with the entrepreneurial activities while other researchers do acknowledge that economic performance is relevant but cannot be more important than the social goals and objectives.[75] When social entrepreneurship was first recognized it was typically associated with non-profit organizations; however, as time has gone by the conceptualization has broadened and even non-profits have participated in commercial activities to access financial resources for the social activities that would have otherwise been difficult to obtain.[76]  Social entrepreneurship can also create competitive advantages similar to those sought by traditional entrepreneurs (e.g., developing and offering innovation solutions to environmental degradation or a social justice problem) that allow social entrepreneurs to enjoy economic returns without impairing or interfering with their social objectives.  As such, it is no longer taboo to profit from satisfying humanitarian and ecological needs so long as the profits are reinvested in activities that further the social objectives (e.g., distribute and add value to employment, investments in machines, infrastructure, sponsoring and labor participation).[77]  These elements appear in the definition of sustainable, not social, entrepreneurship offered by Crais and Vereeck: “the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce”.[78]

Social entrepreneurship was first investigated in the 1990s and emerged naturally with the popularization of ecopreneurship, no surprise given that it was impossible for ecopreneurs to achieve their goal of “changing the world” and improving the overall quality of life without also acting in a socially responsible fashion.[79]  In fact, several of the definitions of ecopreneurship presented elsewhere in this chapter explicitly incorporate a social dimension.[80]  However, as opposed to the ecological and environmental issues and problems that ecopreneurs were focus on, social entrepreneurship gathered speed on the heels of four trends: global wealth disparity; the growth of the corporate social responsibility movement; market, institutional and state failures; technological advances and shared responsibility.[81]

Lumpkin et al. suggested that both “traditional” and social entrepreneurs have a lot in common and that many entrepreneurial processes used by the two groups remained the same or are affected only slightly (for further discussion see Differentiating between Commercial and Social Entrepreneurship.[82]  However, while a traditional entrepreneur measures his or her performance primarily through profits and return on investment, social entrepreneurs generally measure success by creating social capital, social change and addressing social needs.[83] These distinctions are important because they influence the opportunities that social entrepreneurs pursue and their behaviors while operating their businesses (i.e., as opposed to traditional entrepreneurs who are comfortable with and must engage in high risk/high reward behaviors, social entrepreneurs, who are not focused on quick economic profits, are more risk averse but no less committed to their goals of social improvement).  As is the case with ecopreneurs, social entrepreneurs are not totally indifferent to profits, or at least “breaking even”, since capital is necessary in order for their businesses to survive over the often lengthy journeys to the desired social impact.  This is no small challenge for social entrepreneurs since they often are involved in activities that address a social-market failure caused by a lack of interest of traditional entrepreneurs due to the belief that there is no viable commercial market that will generate an acceptable level of revenues to justify the investment of capital.[84]

Bell and Stellingwerf provided a variety of different definitions and conceptualizations of social entrepreneurship[85]: 

  • Profit making is not the primary goal of a social entrepreneur and generated profits from market activities should be used for the benefit of a specific disadvantaged group.[86]
  • Profit is less important, and the social aspect should be balanced at least equally to profit, a challenge that has been conceptualized as the “double bottom line” that balances both social (people) and economic (profit) returns on investment.[87]
  • Social entrepreneurs “play the role of change agents in the social sector, by adopting a mission to create and sustain social value (not just private value), recognizing and relentlessly pursuing new opportunities to serve that mission, engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaptation, and learning, acting boldly without being limited by resources currently in hand, and exhibiting heightened accountability to the constituencies served and for the outcomes created”.[88]
  • Social entrepreneurship “emphasizes innovation and impact, not income, in dealing with social problems” and social entrepreneurs are focused on introducing a novel, innovative technology or approach aimed at creating social impact.[89]
  • Social Entrepreneurship is “the innovative use and combination of resources to pursue opportunities to catalyze social change and/or address social needs”.[90]
  • “Social Entrepreneurship encompasses the activities and processes undertaken to discover, define, and exploit opportunities in order to enhance social wealth by creating new ventures or managing existing organizations in an innovative manner.”[91]

To learn more see Qualities of Social and Sustainable Enterprises.

Like traditional entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs need to identify and exploit opportunities, create and manage their organizations in innovative ways and, as emphasized by Bell and Stellingwerf, “acquire substantial resources including, human, social and financial capital to not only accomplish their mission, but also to ensure such resources are sustaining the organization’s longevity”.[92]  This is often quite challenging to social entrepreneurs who often are surprised to find competition that is intense as what is commonplace in the commercial sector.  For example, social entrepreneurs must be able to differentiate themselves from other worthy causes and forge and maintain relationships with a number of stakeholder groups including donors, professional employees, volunteers and the intended beneficiaries of the entrepreneurial initiatives.[93]

Bell and Stellingwerf observed that the obvious similarity between ecopreneurship and social entrepreneurship is that they both incorporate a “double bottom line” within the company’s mission: balancing economic returns with other considerations (i.e., environmental or social impact).[94]  This observation is consistent with the views of  Schaltegger and Wagner, who wrote:: “Even though the historic trajectories of these types (Eco- & Social Entrepreneurship) differ, it seems that the underlying motivations for the activities are very similar and this seems to make likely a convergence of these currently rather independent literatures”.[95]   As discussed below, the anticipated convergence is often defined and described as “sustainable entrepreneurship” or “sustainability entrepreneurship” and is based on the conceptualization the deployment of entrepreneurial tools and practices to solve either an environmental or societal problem (i.e., recognize market imperfections and/or unmet needs in the realms of ecology or society and address them through the introduction of innovative products, services and processes) while maintaining a focus on creating economic value—in other words, businesses that use the “triple bottom line” as their guide.[96]

Several dimensions should be considered when measuring the social impact of entrepreneurial activities: the type of impact on persons and organizations, which can include outputs or outcomes (e.g., incomes, treatment of works, community and environment); the scale of impact, which takes into account the number of people or organizations affected; and the depth of impact, which includes the amount or intensity of positive change in well-being subjectively experienced by the affected people or organizations.  These dimensions can be combined to create an overall measure of social impact that incorporates the sum of the positive changes to well-being for all types of impact experienced by all affected people and organizations.[97]

LDC, a private equity firm based in UK and part of the Lloyds Banking Group, suggested a technical framework for assessing the social value of the activities of a business that included three components:

  • Business-Level Benefits: Business-level benefits include the social value that a business creates through its own employment, investment and procurement activities. Direct benefits include scaling and growth of the company’s business and turnover.  Indirect benefits include the impact that the company’s business has on other businesses through its supply chains.  Finally, induced benefits include the impacts of the company’s workforce spending on other local firms’ goods and services (i.e., multiplier effects).
  • Wider Economic Benefits: Wider economic benefits include the social value that a business creates through its job and business impacts on the rest of the national/regional/local economy. These include sector-specific, shared business benefits arising from spatial proximity (i.e., “cluster” growth) and shared business benefits for all sectors arising from higher critical mass of demand for infrastructure.
  • Community Benefits: Community benefits include the shared social value that businesses contribute to by participating in partnerships working with local communities to develop solutions to their challenges and needs. Specific community projects include education, learning and skills development; employment and training; health and healthy lifestyle; personal and social well-being; arts, culture and recreation; and climate change and environmental conservation.

For further discussion of social entrepreneurship, see Social Entrepreneurship prepared and distributed by the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project.

Back to Contents.

Corporate Sustainability

According to Montiel, interest in corporate sustainability surged after the United Nations World Economic and Development Commission popularized the term “sustainable development” in its famous 1987 “Brundtland Report” and researchers began to adapt the concept to companies by declaring that they could pursue sustainability by meeting their present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.[98]  During the 1990s academics and practitioners began to argue that corporate sustainability required simultaneous attention to, and satisfaction of, environmental, social, and economic standards.[99] Dyllick and Hockerts suggested that when the fundamental principles of sustainable development are translated to the firm level, it leads to defining corporate sustainability as “meeting the needs of a firm’s direct and indirect stakeholders (such as shareholders, employees, clients, pressure groups, communities etc.), without compromising its ability to meet the needs of future stakeholders as well”.[100]  Dyllick and Hockerts explained that in order to achieve and maintain corporate sustainability, companies must be able to growth their economic, social and environmental capital basis while also actively contributing to sustainability in the political domain.  They went on to identify what they felt to be the three key elements of corporate sustainability[101]: 

  • Integrating the economic, ecological and social aspects in a “triple-bottom line”: Economic sustainability alone is not a sufficient condition for the overall sustainability of a company and while companies can enjoy short-term success by focusing only on economic growth they must ultimately learn how to satisfy and balance all three dimensions of the “triple-bottom-line” simultaneously, a difficult task given the complex inter-relationships among them.
  • Integrating the short-term and long-term aspects: Many companies, large and small, have responded to the demands of their investors by over-emphasizing short-term profits, a strategy that is at odds with the spirit of sustainability and its elevation of the future needs of stakeholders to the same level as their present desires. In addition, emphasis on discounted rates of return tend to value short-term gains and minimize the costs associated with social or environmental degradation that will be incurred farther out in time as a result of the firm’s current activities.
  • Consuming the income and not the capital: Management and maintenance of economic capital has been a long-standing tenet of long-term sustainability for businesses and the fiduciary responsibility of corporate directors and managers; however, corporate sustainability requires that companies not only manage the economic capital, but also their natural and social capital stocks.

Corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) have become popular concepts over the last two decades.  Like sustainability generally, researchers and commentators have suggested a variety of definitions for CSR.[102]  For further discussion of definitions of corporate sustainability, see Definitions and Elements of Corporate Sustainability.  One of the simplest descriptions of CSR is actions taken by a company to further some social good which is outside of the company’s immediate interests yet required by law.  Some have focused on CSR as a strategic tool that increases the competitiveness of the company and strengthens the company’s reputation, each of which ultimately contributes to improved company performance.  As noted above, definitions of corporate sustainability tend to incorporate the dimensions of the “triple-bottom-line” and conceptualize corporate sustainability as the long-term maintenance of responsibility from economic, environmental and social perspectives.  The consensus is the both CSR and corporate sustainability are based on attempting to operate businesses in a more humane, ethical and transparent way[103]; however, there is an important distinction: CSR is generally seen as being a voluntary action in and of itself or as part of the company’s CSR strategy while corporate sustainability is an organizational practice that is integrated into the entire business and business strategy of the company.  This is important to understand because integrating sustainability into organizational practices is a time-consuming process that is heavily influenced by the organization’s history, people, interests and action.  The specific organizational practices that are related to sustainability are those that are implemented in order to reduce the adverse environmental and social impacts of the company’s business and operations.

Montiel pointed out that while the CSR and corporate sustainability constructs had similar conceptualizations of economic, social, and environmental dimensions, researchers tended to ask different questions about them.  For example, corporate sustainability scholars tended to argue that the economic, social, and environmental pillars are interconnected; however, most of the empirical research on CSR and CSP treated social and economic performance as independent components.  Montiel, referring to corporate sustainability as “CS”, concluded:

“Current research seems to show that, because of their shared environmental and social concerns, CSR and CS are converging, despite their paradigmatic differences. In CSR, environmental issues are a subset of a broader social performance dimensions. In the CS field, the social dimension has become an increasingly important part of the sustainability paradigm. Contemporary businesses must address economic prosperity, social equity, and environmental integrity before they can lay claim to socially responsible behavior or sustainable practices. Indeed, the conceptualization of CSR that integrates economic, social, and environmental dimensions and the triple bottom line conceptualization of CS, which comprises economic, social, and environmental dimensions, are very similar. Both show that firms must balance the three elements of the triple bottom line to achieve long-term sustainability and social responsibility. Both CSR and CS aim to balance economic prosperity, social integrity, and environmental responsibility, regardless of whether they conceptualize environmental issues as a subset of social issues or as the third element of sustainability.”[104]

You might also be interested in Reasons Why Businesses Aren’t More Sustainable and Some Sustainability Myths.

A 2017 article in The Economist described “sustainability” in the corporate context as follows:

“The term “sustainability” is often used interchangeably with CSR or viewed exclusively through an environmental lens. Thought leaders, however, generally describe it as a business strategy that creates long-term stakeholder value by addressing social, economic, and environmental opportunities and risks material to a company. It is integral to a company’s business and culture, rather than on the periphery. Optimizing waste reduction, or water or energy consumption, for example, can help a company reduce operational costs. Sustainability can drive innovation by reconceiving products and services for low-income consumers, opening new lines of business and boosting revenue in the process. Finally, being socially responsible can help a company earn license to operate in new markets, and attract and retain talent.”[105]

Dyllick and Hockerts observed that as sustainability became a more mainstream concept for businesses, the main focus of corporate leaders and academics was on the “business case” for sustainable development, which involved demonstrating how companies could further economic sustainability by increasing their ecological and social efficiency.  Dyllick and Hockerts argued that the business case for corporate sustainability, which an important step forward, was not sufficient for companies to become truly sustainable and that it was necessary for companies to address two more cases: the “natural case”, which requires companies to deal with the reality that they can never be sustainable if they are continuously operating close to (or even beyond) the environment’s “carrying capacity”; and the “societal case”, which is important because companies harness, manage and preserve three types of capital that are not substitutable.[106]  For fuller discussion see The Three Cases for Corporate Sustainability.

Dyllick and Hockerts explained that companies typically begin their path toward corporate sustainability by looking for ways to make more efficient uses of their natural and social capital as a means for increasing their economic sustainability—in other words, a “business case” for sustainability.  With respect to the use of natural capital, this generally means taking steps toward better “eco-efficiency”, which “is achieved by the delivery of competitively-priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing ecological impacts and resource intensity throughout the life-cycle to a level at least in line with the earth’s carrying capacity”.[107]  The most common indicators of eco-efficiency include energy, water and resource efficiency and waste or pollution intensity.[108]  While eco-efficiency is often the guiding principle for the sustainable development contributions of companies, many also pursue socio-efficiency, which focuses on the relationship between a company’s “value added” and its social impact.[109]  Socio-efficiency involves both increasing positive social impacts (e.g., corporate giving and creation of employment) and decreasing negative social impacts (e.g., reducing the amount of work accidents per value added and eliminating human rights abuses in the supply chain).[110]

The natural case for corporate sustainability is built on the premise that while eco-efficiency is valuable and important, it only leads to relative improvements (i.e., increased energy or resource efficiency per value added) and does not address the key sustainability challenge of absolute thresholds caused by the problem of non-substitutability.  For example, it is well and good for companies to reduce their emissions of pollutants; however, if the reduced emissions are released into a system that is already close to its carrying capacity then the overall objective of sustainability is in danger regardless of how eco-efficient companies become.  Dyllick and Hockerts argued that “from an environmental point of view, the main issue is therefore not eco-efficiency but eco-effectiveness”.[111]  Braungart and McDonough described and used the term “eco-effectiveness” as follows: “Long-term prosperity depends not on the efficiency of a fundamentally destructive system, but on the effectiveness of processes designed to be healthy and renewable in the first place. Eco-effectiveness celebrates the abundance and fecundity of natural systems, and structures itself around goals that target 100 percent sustaining solutions”.[112]

Dyllick and Hockerts explained how the pursuit of eco-efficiency is often at odds with eco-effectiveness.  The cited the example of how many automobile manufacturers have deployed new technologies to develop more efficient vehicles, with the ultimate goal being to reduce the cost of driving a car to the point where more consumers can afford to purchase and use a vehicle for their individual mobility needs.  While this may make life easier for large numbers of people, increasing the number of cars and miles driven each year around the globe will drive up mobility-induced CO2 emissions dramatically and exacerbate what has already been widely acknowledged as a dramatic ecological crisis.  Dyllick and Hockerts suggested that the answer is to shift attention away from fossil fuel efficiency and focus on developing and implementing effective solar powered fuel cells as the means for powering vehicles.[113] Note also that the same logic applies to investments in public transit: while more efficient buses with expanded routes and underwritten by public funds arguably takes individual cars off the road, public transit solutions must also be eco-effective (i.e., buses should incorporate solar power fuel technologies).

Dyllick and Hockerts also argued that eco-effectiveness (i.e., developing and producing eco-effective products and services) is not the only criterion that needs to be considered when making the natural case for sustainability.  They point out that the impact of efficiency gains depends on consumer choice and the decisions that consumers make regarding the products and services they prefer to consume.  For example, even as automobile manufacturers were beginning to make progress toward developing and commercializing fuel efficient vehicles, consumers in the US and other developed countries were demanding sport utility vehicles, or “SUVs”, that were notorious “gas guzzlers”.  In many cases, the demand was stoked by the marketing practices of the manufacturers.  Realizing that consumption preferences and patterns are important drivers of sustainability, Dyllick and Hockerts and others have included “sufficiency” as a second criterion in the natural case for corporate sustainability.[114]  Hockerts explained that: “. . . sufficiency is primarily a criterion for sustainable consumerism, the business world has at least an indirect responsibility. Marketing and corporate advertisements have an increasing influence on consumer trends and life-style developments. Rather than fueling the demand for more unsustainable products, firms might try to channel demand towards less problematic areas”.[115]  However, Dyllick and Hockerts acknowledged that sufficiency is also an issue of individual choice rather than the sole responsibility of a particular firm.  In other words, the case for sufficiency has to be made by members of society, perhaps by sending a strong message to businesses about the types of products and services they should be developing and promoting in order to achieve the greater environmental good.

The last of the three cases for corporate sustainability, the “social case”, includes two additional criteria that go beyond the criterion of socio-efficiency associated with the business case.  The first criterion is “socio-effectiveness”, which is based on the premise that “business conduct should not be judged on a relative scale but rather in relation to the absolute positive social impact a firm could reasonably have achieved”.[116]  Dyllick and Hockerts explained this criterion by noting that while many companies pursue socio-effectiveness by working hard to serve their clients even better and at lower costs, the fact is that the customers to whom these products and services are made available are only a small part of the world population and that companies in a position to do so fail to make their products and services available to those who are truly in need (i.e., people in what Hart and Prahalad famously referred to as the “bottom of the pyramid”[117]).  Social effectiveness includes making basic services and products such as food, health and financial and communication services available to those who would not be able to purchase them if companies failed to consider anything other than pure economic sustainability.  The second criterion embedded in the social case is “ecological equity”, which means that companies must seek equitable solutions to the management and distribution of the world’s natural capital between current and future generations.[118]

Dyllick and Hockerts made it clear that they believed that companies seeking to achieve corporate sustainability must satisfy all six of the criterion described above among the three cases for corporate sustainability (i.e., eco-efficiency, socio-efficiency, ecological equity, socio-effectiveness, sufficiency and eco-effectiveness).  They acknowledged that time and context will influence which of the cases command the attention of companies and their managers at a particular moment and that the business case, with its emphasis on eco-efficiency and socio-efficiency, will likely command the most attention of corporate managers unless external factors (e.g., consumers, politicians, activists etc.) force them to consider the natural and social cases.  They also noted that the natural and social cases are more difficult to administer and monitor due to the lack of the same sort of accepted measurement tools that have been created to monitor economic performance; however, they argued that “as all companies are guided to some extent by a set of political–ethical values that are entrenched in the firm’s culture, business managers may promote corporate sustainability without making an explicit calculation of the economic costs and benefits”.[119]

Dyllick and Hockerts were not the only ones who have suggested a framework for corporate sustainability; however, many of the others models include dimensions that are quite similar.  For example, the Sustainche Farm Project focused on the sustainable development of a smallholder family farm in Northern Namibia, offered the following illustration of the dimensions of a sustainable development policy:

  • Economics: Innovation; capital efficiency; risk management; margin improvement; growth enhancement and total shareholder return
  • Socio-Economics: Jobs creation; skills enhancement; local economic impacts; social investments; business ethics and security
  • Eco-Efficiency: Resource efficiency; product stewardship; life-cycle management and products to services
  • Social: Diversity; human rights; community outreach; indigenous communities and labor relations
  • Socio-Environmental: Global climate change; access to potable water; crisis management; environmental judgment; compliance with environmental regulations and health and safety
  • Environmental: Clean air; reduction of water and land emissions; zero waste; elimination of releases and spills and bio-diversity

McDonough and Braungart proposed a different model of corporate sustainability that was based on “triple top line” thinking and shifted the emphasis of corporate accountability to the beginning of the design process.[120]  Following the “triple bottom line” framework, the McDonough and Braungart model was anchored by three value systems (economy, ecology and equity) which were the corners of the fractal triangle they used to illustrate their model.  Young and Tilley explained that “every business decision is connected to and has an impact upon all three value systems, all of which carry equal weight and require equal consideration”.[121]  Accordingly, it was recommended that companies should move through each zone of the triangle when designing new products to ask and answer the following questions in pursuit of identifying and acting upon opportunities to create value[122]:

  • Economy-economy: Can I make my product or provide a service at a profit?
  • Economy-ecology: Will our service or production process use resources efficiently? Will our business process reduce waste?
  • Economy-equity: Are the employees producing a promising product earning a living wage?
  • Equity-equity: Will the factory or office improve the quality of life of all stakeholders and restore ecosystems?
  • Equity-ecology: In what ways could the product or service enhance the health of employees and customers?
  • Equity-economy: Are men and women being paid the same for the same work? Are we finding new ways to honor everyone involved, regardless of race, sex, nationality or religion?
  • Ecology-ecology: Are we obeying nature’s laws? Are we creating habitats?
  • Ecology-equity: Will our product or service contribute to the balance of the local ecology?
  • Ecology-economy: Is our ecological strategy economically viable? Will it enable us to use resources effectively?

For further discussion, see Corporate Sustainability prepared and distributed by the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project.

Back to Contents.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship

By the 1990s it was becoming clear that sustainability had “become a multidimensional concept that extends beyond environmental protection to economic development and social equity”—in other words, entrepreneurship guided and measured by the three pillars of the “triple bottom line”.[123] Crals and Vereeck reasoned that “sustainable entrepreneurship” could be interpreted as a spin-off concept from sustainable development and that sustainable entrepreneurs were those persons and companies that contributed to sustainable development by “doing business in a sustainable way”.[124]  According to the Brundtland Commission, sustainable entrepreneurship is the continuing commitment by businesses to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce, their families, the local and global community as well as future generations.[125]  This definition recognizes several different stakeholder groups, not just shareholders, must be taken into account when managerial decisions are made and operational activities in furtherance of the organizational purposes are carried out.  Crals and Vereeck argued that in order for entrepreneurial activity to be “sustainable” it must recognize, address and satisfy certain standards for each of the 3 P’s of the triple bottom-line described above.[126]  Crals and Vereeck observed that the definition of sustainable entrepreneurship was not static given the dynamism of new ideas and standards with respect to the social and natural environment.

Bell and Stellingwerf compiled what they considered to be a representative list of definitions of “sustainable entrepreneurship” that were suggested from 2003 through 2011 and concluded that the definitions collectively identified four defining attributes of sustainable entrepreneurship: balancing environmental and social concerns; economic and non-economic gains to individuals, the economy and society; market failures and disequilibria; and transforming sectors toward sustainability.[127]  To learn more about the list of definitions, see Definitions and Conceptualizations of Sustainable Entrepreneurship.  From all of this, Bell and Stellingwerf proposed their own definition of sustainable entrepreneurship as “startups that introduce an innovation, with the aim to solve a sustainability-related market failure, which initiates the transformation of an industry toward sustainability”.[128]  The “innovation” could take the form of a product, process or service and the sustainability objectives behind these innovations were equally important as the economic objectives associated with them.  The use of the term “startups” is intentional and significant as it explicitly differentiates sustainable entrepreneurship from the activities of established organizations, such as corporations, to address sustainable development issues in their environment (i.e., corporate-sustainability/CSR initiatives).

Lawai et al. noted that sustainable entrepreneurs are also subject to many of the same factors that influence commercial entrepreneurs and that the success of both types of entrepreneurs will be influenced by motivating factors, personality characteristics, family support, friend circle/peer group support, management skills and abilities, level of education and environmental forces (for further discussion see Determinants of Sustainable Entrepreneurship.[129] Market conditions are also obviously very important and Rahman and Singh observed that the chances of entrepreneurial success increase substantially with competitive pricing, power supply, access to latest technology, access to market channels, and access to business associations.[130]  Researchers also frequently mentioned government support which can come in many forms: financing, infrastructure development, subsidies for accessing raw materials, and assistance with research and development and access to technology.  The government can also serve a valuable role as a customer, not only as a source of revenues for the venture but also as a means for the new venture to test and improve the quality of its products before broader commercial launch.

See Assessment Questions for Sustainable Entrepreneurs.

Young and Tilley emphasized that sustainable entrepreneurship is based on moving beyond “efficiency” to seeking and achieving “sustainability”, a path that was consistent with the evolution in the way in which businesses have encompassed changing attitudes toward environmental and social issues.  They explained that when businesses first starting considering environmental issues during the early 1960s their primary concern was controlling pollution and their responses tended to be bolt-on solutions to manage compliance with emerging regulations.  Two decades later, beginning in the mid-1980s and extending through the 1990s, businesses identified opportunities to reduce costs through the implementation of environmental management practices: the so-called “eco-efficiency” strategy that was touted as a “win-win” solution that minimized resource consumption and waste while affording companies a competitive advantage.[131]  By the beginning of the 21st century, however, environmental management theorists and activists had pivoted toward a new approach: businesses should seek “eco-effectiveness” by adopting business practices that went beyond pollution control and eco-efficiency to operating in a manner that restored and enhanced the environment.[132]

Young and Tilley described sustainable entrepreneurs as entrepreneurs who apply their values to generate a sustainable form of wealth, which means contributing a holistic net benefit to the economy, community and the natural environment.[133]  They proposed a model for understanding the concept of “sustainable entrepreneurship”, which they described as an “organization that has sustainability at the center of its structure, operations and management”.[134]  Young and Tilley explained that their goal was to put forward a model for sustainable entrepreneurship that distinguished it from the conventions of economic, social and environmental entrepreneurship.[135]  They were very clear that while it was true that economic, social and environmental entrepreneurs could contribute to sustainable development, they were not going be fully sustainable so long as they maintained a single primacy.[136]

The model suggested by Young and Tilley, more fully discussed in Young and Tilley’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship Model, was based on combining the six criteria of corporate sustainability proposed by Dyllick and Hockerts with concepts that were included in the McDonough-Braungart model of corporate sustainability, all of which have already been described above.  While Young and Tilley noted that each of the aforementioned models had value, they also had several criticisms[137]:

  • While they believed that Dyllick and Hockerts provided a useful insight into new ways of advancing solutions with respect to production, their model did not properly address problems relating to consumption. Specifically, Young and Tilley cautioned that “no matter how environmentally friendly you make a product, if consumer demands are too high there is a potential for imbalance and environmental or social harm”.
  • Companies of all sizes, large and small, have a tendency to concentrate on just one of the business cases, rather than incorporating all element of the model into their core missions. While the tendency among larger companies to place greater weight on the business case is well documented, smaller companies that have gone well beyond eco- and socio-efficiency to produce “green” products and help disadvantaged sections of society often have similar problems.
  • The McDonough-Braungart model did not provide enough detail to translate into values and strategies for companies and was still concentrating on the separate elements of sustainable development and not the whole thing.

Young and Tilley argued that Dyllick and Hockerts and McDonough and Braungart had focused their efforts on established businesses that were approaching sustainable development from the eco- and socio-efficiency end of the models and that their models failed to provide guidance to eco- and socio-entrepreneurs in operationalizing the other elements of the path towards sustainable development.  In order to address these shortcomings, Young and Tilley proposed several changes to the Dyllick-Hockerts model to “focus on entrepreneurship and advance it to sustainable entrepreneurship”[138].

Young and Tilley’s main effort to advance the Dyllick-Hockerts model to a full-fledged framework for sustainable entrepreneurship involved moving the three traditional poles of entrepreneurship (i.e., economic, environmental and social) towards a higher plane.  In order to do this, Young and Tilley introduced three new two-way relationships and six new variables to be added to the six already operating in the Dyllick-Hockerts model[139]:

  • A relationship between economic and sustainable entrepreneurship which involves both “economic equity”, which is the distribution of economic wealth fairly between existing generations as well as future generations, and “inter-generational equity”, which brings consideration of the economic welfare of future generations into the factors that companies consider when making decisions and engaging in operating activities.
  • A relationship between environmental and sustainable entrepreneurship which involves both environmental stability, which is the positive forces being exerted on the environment to stabilize and where necessary restore the various ecosystem functions (e.g., climate change), and environmental sustainability, which brings consideration of the long-term sustainability into the factors that companies consider when making decisions and engaging in operating activities.
  • A relationship between social and sustainable entrepreneurship which involves both social responsibility, which refers to companies and individuals taking responsibility and being accountable for direct and indirect and negative and positive impacts on existing generations, and “futurity”, which brings consideration of the social well-being of future generations into the factors that companies consider when making decisions and engaging in operating activities.

The crux of the argument made by Young and Tilley was that “sustainable entrepreneurship is the sum of all the 12 variables of the model operating in unison” and they cautioned that sustainable entrepreneurship could not be achieved by only subscribing to social or environmental entrepreneurship.[140]  They noted that while the model “does not represent a ‘direct route’ from any of economic, environmental or social entrepreneurship poles to sustainable entrepreneurship” it does illustrate the relationship between the three poles and sustainable entrepreneurship and thus could be used as a way for assessing whether an organization meets the criterion for one of the poles and identifying the steps that the organization should take to move from that pole towards sustainable entrepreneurship.  In other words, the sustainable entrepreneurship model was developed as a framework to guide individuals seeking to start up a sustainable enterprise from the outset and Young and Tilley described the model as detailing the elements required of a sustainable entrepreneur.

According to Tilley and Young, the six initial elements of the model could be seen as the values that build an entrepreneur with social, environmental or economic goals and the additional six elements incorporate what is needed in order for the entrepreneurial activity to be sustainable.  They conceded that the additional elements would be challenging to realize in practice because many of them are at best theoretical; however, they argued that entrepreneurs are well suited to the task given their propensity for innovation, experimentation and risk taking.  Their position with regard to sustainable entrepreneurship has been succinctly explained as follows:

“The sustainable entrepreneur is the only route to fulfilling sustainable development. Firstly, an entrepreneur and their enterprise have to be financially sustainable to survive within the current economic and regulatory systems.  An organization just focusing on the environment as its goal without a means of income beyond government subsidy or philanthropy cannot be an entrepreneur, for example, a change of government or change of heart by the philanthropist could remove the income for that organization and stop the environmental work. In addition, concentrating on environmental values causes social damage, that is to say, creating a nature reserve can exclude the local community from resource traditionally harvested from the land the nature reserve now occupies. Similarly, concentrating on the social values can cause financial failure and environmental damage, take a fair trade organization as an example, it can help bring disadvantaged communities out of poverty but if the organization cannot sell the fair trade products its financial failure stops its good work. In addition, the fair trade organization is damaging the environment through transporting goods across the world (contributing to climate change) and having little regard to the impacts of the production process on the environment (depletion of natural resources, pesticides, hazardous waste).  Hence only those entrepreneurs that balance their efforts in contributing to the three areas of wealth generation can truly be called a sustainable entrepreneur.”[141]

There is a continuously growing array of techniques and procedures that are available to promote sustainable entrepreneurship and provide companies with standards and guidelines they can follow in developing, implementing and monitoring their sustainable entrepreneurship initiatives.[142]  For example, Crais and Vereeck noted that production standards focusing on measuring product quality and performance have been around for a long time and that it is relatively easy to measure whether or not a particular product complies with a standard.  The more difficult task is assessing processes that are thought to be necessary in order for sustainable entrepreneurship to be successful.  Guidelines for human resources management, eco-design and management systems are available; however, they are often criticized for being either too complex or too general and thus difficult to put into practice.  As a result, work continues on developing practical management systems for implementing and tracking sustainability initiatives and integrating sustainability into strategic and business processes.  Other tools for sustainable entrepreneurship include sustainability reports, audits, codes, sustainability communication and labels and are discussed in detail in Instruments of Sustainable Entrepreneurship.

For further discussion of sustainable entrepreneurship, see Sustainable Entrepreneurship prepared and distributed by the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project.

To access all of the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project’s articles on Sustainability and Entrepreneurship, go to here.

To access and download certain of the publications referred to herein, go to the author’s Gumroad Storefront.

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Additional Resources

PROJECT PUBLICATIONS

Guides

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Entrepreneurship: A Library of Resources for Sustainable Entrepreneurs

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Change the World – Social Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies

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Beyond the Business Case for Corporate Sustainability

Can Businesses Move Beyond Efficiency?

Defining Sustainability and Human Resources Management

Influences on the Organizational Implementation of Sustainability

Quantifying the Social Dimension of Triple Bottom Line

Socio-Cultural Factors and Intention for Sustainable Entrepreneurship

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Adoption of Sustainability Practices Among Multinationals

Sustainability-Driven Entrepreneurship

Sustainable Entrepreneurship

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Measuring Sustainable Development

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Scaling Up Business Impacts on Sustainable Living

Social and Environmental Due Diligence

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Sustainability Entreprenuers, Ecopreneurs and Development of a Sustainability Economy

Sustainable Entrepreneurship in SMEs

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Policy Brief on Social Entrepreneurship

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Sustainable Leadership

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Stakeholder Engagement

Sustainability Reporting and Auditing

Sustainability for Small Businesses and Startups

Sustainability Standards and Instruments

Investor Relations

Environment, Health and Safety

Labor Practices and Working Conditions

Sustainable Human Resources Management

Product Responsibility and Customer Care

Sustainable Product Development

Sustainable Technology Management

Community Impact and Development

Human Rights

Procurement and Supplier Management

Compliance, Ethics and Risk Management

Societal Relations

Governmental Relations

Sustainable Finance

Back to Contents.

Notes

[1] P. Van Beurden and T. Gössling, “The worth of values: a literature review on the relation between corporate social and financial performance”, Journal of Business Ethics, 82(2) (2008), 407; and S. Shane and S. Venkataraman, “The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research”, The Academy of Management Review, 25 (2000), 217.

[2] Based on a variety of sources including P. Di Maio, Sustainable Entrepreneurship,

http://www.slideshare.net/PaolaDIM/sustainable-entrepreneurship and S. Graham, What Is Sustainable Entrepreneurship? (September 16, 2010),

http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Is-Sustainable-Entrepreneurship?&id=5045492

[3] J. Bell and J. Stellingwerf, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: The Motivations & Challenges of Sustainable Entrepreneurs in the Renewable Energy Industry (Jonkoping, Sweden: Jonkoping International Business School Master Thesis in Business Administration, 2012), 3 (citing D. Meadows, D. Meadows, J. Randers and W. Behrens, Limits of Growth (New York: Universe Books, 1972)).

[4] Z. Stankeviciute and A. Savaneviciene, “Sustainability as a Concept for Human Resource Management”, Economics and Management, 18(4) (2013), 837, 839 (citing I. Ehnert, “Sustainability and Human Resource Management: Reasoning and Applications on Corporate Websites”, European Journal of International Management, 3(4) (2009), 419).

[5] W. Leal Filho, “Dealing with Misconceptions on the Context of Sustainability”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 1(1) (2000), 9.

[6] L. Rey, Sustainable Entrepreneurship and its Viability (Rotterdam: Master Thesis for MS in Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Organizations Economics from Erasmus School of Economics, December 2011), 11.

[7] B. Mazur, “Sustainable Human Resource Management in theory and practice”, Economics and Management (January 2014), 158, 159.

[8] See I. Ehnert, “Sustainability and Human Resource Management: Reasoning and Applications on Corporate Websites”, European Journal of International Management, 3(4) (2009), 419.

[9] See R. Kazlauskaite and I. Buciuniene, “The Role of Human Resources and their Management in the Establishment of Sustainable Competitive Advantage”, Engineering Economics, 5 (2008), 78; and J. Barney, “Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage”, Journal of Management, 17(1) (1991), 99.

[10] See J. Elkington, Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business (Oxford: Capstone, 1997) and P. Bansal, “Evolving Sustainability: Longitudinal Study of Corporate Sustainable Development”, Strategic Management Journal, 26(3) (2005), 197.

[11] D. Kiron, N. Kruschwitz, K. Haanaes and I. von Streng Velken, “Sustainability nears a tipping point”, MIT Sloan Management Review, 53(2) (2012), 69 (noting six criteria for “corporate sustainability”: eco-efficiency, eco-effectiveness, sufficiency, ecological equity, socio-effectiveness and socio-efficiency).

[12]  H. Daly, Steady-state economics (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1991).

[13] Z. Stankeviciute and A. Savaneviciene, “Sustainability as a Concept for Human Resource Management”, Economics and Management, 18(4) (2013), 837, 839 (citing W. Leal Filho, “Dealing with Misconceptions on the Context of Sustainability”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 1(1) (2000), 9).

[14] R. Schuler and S. Jackson, “A Quarter-Century Review of Human Resource Management in the U.S.”, The Growth in the Importance of the International Perspective, 16(1) (2005), 11.  See also J. Boudreau, “Sustainability and the Talentship Paradigm: Strategic Human Resource Management Beyond the Bottom Line (CAHRS Working Paper Series, 2003) (sustainability is “an alternative definition of organizational success“) and J. Boudreau and P. Ramstad, “Talentship, Talent Segmentation and Sustainability: A New HR Decision Science Paradigm for a New Strategy Definition”, Human Resource Management, 44(2) (2005), 129 (sustainability is “achieving success today without compromising the needs of the future”).

[15] See M. Huselid, B. Becker and R. Beatty, The Workforce Scorecard: Managing Human Capital to Execute Strategy (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2005) and S. Taylor, J. Osland and C. Egri, “Guest Editors’ Introduction: Introduction to HRM’s Role in Sustainability: Systems, Strategies and Practices”, Human Resources management, 51(6) (2012), 789.  For further discussion of human resources management (“HRM”) and the relationship of sustainability to HRM, see “Human Resources: A Library of Resources for Sustainable Entrepreneurs” prepared and distributed by the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project (www.seproject.org).

[16] D. Choi and E. Gray, “The venture development process of “sustainable” entrepreneurs”, Management Research News, 31(8) (2008), 558.

[17] J. Bell and J. Stellingwerf, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: The Motivations & Challenges of Sustainable Entrepreneurs in the Renewable Energy Industry (Jonkoping, Sweden: Jonkoping International Business School Master Thesis in Business Administration, 2012), 4.

[18] See K. Nurse, “Culture as the Fourth Pillar of Sustainable Development”, Small States: Economic Review and Basic Statistics, 11 (2006), 28; D. Shepherd and H. Patzelt, “The New Field of Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Studying Entrepreneurial Action Linking ‘What is to be Sustained’ With ‘What is to be Developed’”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, January 2011, 137; and D. Shepherd and H. Patzelt, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial Mechanisms Linking What is to be Sustained With What is to be Developed. Conference proceedings in 5th International AGSE Entrepreneurship Research Exchange, February 5-8, 2008, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia.

[19] A. Racelis, “Sustainable Entrepreneurship in Asia: A Proposed Theoretical Framework Based on Literature Review”, Journal of Management for Global Sustainability, 2 (2014), 6.

[20] S. Graham, What Is Sustainable Entrepreneurship? (September 16, 2010),

http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Is-Sustainable-Entrepreneurship?&id=5045492

[21] S. Shane, E. Locke and C. Collins, “Entrepreneurial motivation”, Human Resource Management Review, 13 (2003), 257-279, 274.

[22] D. Stokes, N. Wilson and M. Mador, Entrepreneurship (Hampshire, UK: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2010).

[23] J. Veciana, “Entrepreneurship as a Scientific Research Program” in A. Cuervo, D. Ribeiro and S. Roig (Eds.), Entrepreneurship: Concepts, Theory and Perspective (Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 2007), 23.

[24] F. Tilley and Young, “Sustainability Entrepreneurs — Could they be the True Wealth Generators of the Future?”, Greener Management International, 55 (2009), 79 (citing P. Hisrich and M. Peters, Entrepreneurship (International Edition) (Boston: Irwin McGraw-Hill, 1998)).

[25] W. Gartner, “’Who is an Entrepreneur?’ Is the Wrong Question”, American Journal of Small Business, Spring 1988, 11-32, 11 (citing, among others, A. Carsrud, K. Olm and G. Eddy, “Entrepreneurship: Research in quest of a paradigm”, in D. Sexton and R. Smilor (Ed.), The Art and Science of Entrepreneurship (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1985); and D. Sexton and R. Smilor, “Introduction” in D. Sexton and R. Smilor (Ed.), The Art and Science of Entrepreneurship (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1985))

[26] Id. (quoting A. Cole, “Definition of Entrepreneurship” in J. Komives (Ed.), Karl A. Bostrom Seminar in the Study of Enterprise (Milwaukee, WI: Center for Venture Management, 1969), 10-22, 17)

[27] Id. (quoting R. Brockhaus and P. Horwitz, “The Psychology of the Entrepreneur” in D. Sexton and R. Smilor (Ed.), The Art and Science of Entrepreneurship (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1985), 42-43)

[28] J. Hessels, International Entrepreneurship: An Introduction, Framework and Research Agenda (Zoetermeer, The Netherlands: Scientific Analysis of Entrepreneurship and SMEs, 2008), 6 (citing P. Reynolds, N. Bosma, E. Autio, S. Hunt, N. De Bono, I. Servais, P. Lopez-Garcia and N. Chin, “Global Entrepreneurship Monitor: Data Collection Design and Implementation 1998-2003”, Small Business Economics, 24(3) (2005), 205-231).

[29] W. Gartner, “’Who is an Entrepreneur?’ Is the Wrong Question”, American Journal of Small Business, Spring 1988, 11-32, 26.  Gardner argued that all of the different studies of entrepreneurship that can be identified in the field actually begin with the creation of new organizations including research on “psychological characteristics of entrepreneurs, sociological explanations of entrepreneurial cultures, economic and demographic explanations of entrepreneurial locations, etc.”.   Id.

[30] P. Davidsson, F. Delmar and J. Wiklund, “Entrepreneurship as Growth; Growth as Entrepreneurship” in P. Davidsson, F. Delmar and J. Wiklund (Eds), Entrepreneurship and the Growth of Firms (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publisher, 2006), 21-38, 27.

[31] J. Hessels, International Entrepreneurship: An Introduction, Framework and Research Agenda (Zoetermeer, The Netherlands: Scientific Analysis of Entrepreneurship and SMEs, 2008), 6.

[32]  For further discussion of the GEM, see “Research in Entrepreneurship” in “Entrepreneurship: A Library of Resources for Sustainable Entrepreneurs” prepared and distributed by the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project (www.seproject.org).

[33] J.G. Burch, Entrepreneurship (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1986).

[34] E. Crals and L. Vereeck, “Sustainable entrepreneurship in SMEs. Theory and Practice” (Copenhagen: 3rd Global Conference in Environmental Justice and Global Citizenship, February 2004); G. Dees, The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship (Stanford: Stanford University – Graduate School of Business, 2001); M. Schaper, “The Essence of Ecopreneurship”, Greener Management International, 38 (2002), 26; W. Young and F. Tilley, “Can Businesses Move Beyond Efficiency? The Shift toward Effectiveness and Equity in the Corporate Sustainability Debate”, Business Strategy and the Environment (2006); and R. Isaak, Green Logic: Ecopreneurship, Theory and Ethics (Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing, 1998).

[35] I. Majid and W-L. Koe, “Sustainable Entrepreneurship (SE): A Revised Model Based on Triple Bottom Line (TBL)”, International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 2(6) (June 2012), 293, 297 (citing M. Friedman, “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”, The New York Times Magazine (September 13, 1970)).

[36] J. Amoros and N. Bosma, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2013 Global Report: Fifteen Years of Assessing Entrepreneurship across the Globe (2014), 37-41.

[37] Z. Acs and L. Szerb, “The Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI)” (Paper presented at Summer Conference 2010 on “Opening Up Innovation: Strategy, Organization and Technology”, Imperial College London Business School, June 2010).

[38] See, e.g., B. Cohen and M. Winn, “Market Imperfections, Opportunity and Sustainable Entrepreneruship”, Journal of Business Venturing, 22(1) (2007), 29; and T. Dean and J. McMullen, “Toward a Theory of Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Reducing Environmental Degradation through Entrepreneurial Action”, Journal of Business Venturing, 22(1) (2007), 50.

[39] J. Hall, G. Daneke and M. Lenox, Sustainable Development and Entrepreneurship: Past Contributions and Future Directions, Journal of Business Venturing, 25(5) (2010), 439; K. Hockerts and R. Wüstenhagen, “Greening Goliaths Versus Emerging Davids: Theorizing about The Role of Incumbents and New Entrants in Sustainable Entrepreneurship”, Journal of Business Venturing, 25(5) (2010), 481; I. O’Neil and D. Ucbasaran, Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Career Transitions: The Role of Individual Identity. Conference proceedings in 8th International AGSE Entrepreneurship Research Exchange Conference, February 1-4, 2011, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia; B. Parrish, “Sustainability-Driven Entrepreneurship: Principles of Organization Design”, Journal of Business Venturing, 25(5) (2010), 510; and F. Tilley and W. Young, “Sustainability Entrepreneurs: Could They Be the True Wealth Generators of the Future?”, Green Management International, 55 (2009), 79.

[40] I. Majid and W-L. Koe, “Sustainable Entrepreneurship (SE): A Revised Model Based on Triple Bottom Line (TBL)”, International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 2(6) (June 2012), 293, 296 (citing J. Hall, G. Daneke and M. Lenox, Sustainable Development and Entrepreneurship: Past Contributions and Future Directions, Journal of Business Venturing, 25(5) (2010), 439, 440; and D. Pacheco, T. Dean and D. Payne, “Escaping the Green Prison: Entrepreneurship and the Creation of Opportunities for Sustainable Development”, Journal of Business Venturing, 25(5) (2010), 464).

[41] J. York and S. Venkataraman, “The Entrepreneur-Environment Nexus: Uncertainty, innovation, and allocation” , Journal of Business Venturing 25(5) (2010), 449.

[42] D. Gibbs, “Sustainability Entrepreneurs, Ecopreneurs and the Development of a Sustainable Economy”, Greener Management International, 55 (September 2006), 63, 66.

[43] R. Beveridge and S. Guy, “The Rise of the Eco-preneur and the Messy World of Environmental Innovation”, Local Environment, 10.6 (2005), 665, 666.

[44] P. Roberts and A. Colwell, “Moving the Environment to Centre Stage: A New Approach to Planning and Development at European and Regional Levels”, Local Environment, 6.4 (2001), 421, 424.

[45] J. Drysek, The Politics of the Earth: Environmental Discourses (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1997) (as cited in D. Gibbs, “Sustainability Entrepreneurs, Ecopreneurs and the Development of a Sustainable Economy”, Greener Management International, 55 (September 2006), 63, 67).

[46] A. Gouldson and J. Murphy, “Ecological Modernisation: Restructuring Industrial Economies”, in M. Jacobs (ed.), Greening the Millennium? The New Politics of the Environment (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1997), 74 (as cited in D. Gibbs, “Sustainability Entrepreneurs, Ecopreneurs and the Development of a Sustainable Economy”, Greener Management International, 55 (September 2006), 63, 66).

[47] United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987).

[48] D. Holt, “Where Are They Now? Tracking the Longitudinal Evolution of Environmental Businesses from the 1990s”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 20(4) (2010), 238.

[49] See D. Holt, “Where Are They Now? Tracking the Longitudinal Evolution of Environmental Businesses from the 1990s”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 20(4) (2010), 238; and J. Randjelovic, A. O’Rourke and R. Orsato, “The emergence of green venture capital”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 12(4) (2003), 240, 241.

[50] J. Bell and J. Stellingwerf, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: The Motivations & Challenges of Sustainable Entrepreneurs in the Renewable Energy Industry (Jonkoping, Sweden: Jonkoping International Business School Master Thesis in Business Administration, 2012), 7 (citing R. Isaak, “The Making of the Ecopreneur”, Greener Management International, 38 (2002), 81).

[51] M. Schaper, Making Ecopreneurs: Developing Sustainable Entrepreneurship (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2005).

[52] R. Isaak, Green Logic: Ecopreneurship, Theory and Ethics (Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing, 1998), 88.

[53] J. Schumpeter, The Theory of Economic Development (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1934).

[54] S. Schaltegger, “A Framework for Ecopreneurship: Leading Bioneers and Environmental Managers to Ecopreneurship”, Greener Management International, 38 (2002), 45, 46.

[55] R. Isaak, Green Logic: Ecopreneurship, Theory and Ethics (Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing, 1998), 87.

[56] P. van Eijck, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Institutional profile and cross-country comparison Denmark & US and its Viability (Rotterdam: Bachelor Thesis in Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Organizations Economics from Erasmus School of Economics, January 2012), 10.

[57] J. Bell and J. Stellingwerf, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: The Motivations & Challenges of Sustainable Entrepreneurs in the Renewable Energy Industry (Jonkoping, Sweden: Jonkoping International Business School Master Thesis in Business Administration, 2012), 7 (citing S. Schaltegger, “Chapter 4: A framework and typology of Ecopreneurship: leading bioneers and environmental managers to Ecopreneurship” in M. Shaper (Ed.) Making Ecopreneurs: Developing Sustainable Entrepreneurship (Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2005), 43).  For a brief summary and critique of research on ecopreneurship, see D. Gibbs, “Sustainability Entrepreneurs, Ecopreneurs and the Development of a Sustainable Economy”, Greener Management International, 55 (September 2006), 63, 73-74.

[58] Id. at 7-8.

[59] R. Isaak, “The Making of the Ecopreneur”, Greener Management International, 38 (2002), 81.

[60] J. Kirkwood and S. Walkton, “What motivates Ecopreneurs to start a business?”, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 16(3) (2010), 204.

[61] A. Pastakia, “Grassroots Ecopreneurs”, Journal of Organisational Change Management, 11(2) (1998), 157.

[62] L. Linnanen, “An insider’s experiences with environmental entrepreneurship”, Greener Management International, 38 (2002), 71.

[63] Id. (cited in C. Rogers, “Sustainable Entrepreneurship in SMEs: A Case Study Analysis”, Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 17 (2010), 125).

[64] S. Schaltegger and M. Wagner, “Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Innovation: Categories and Interactions”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 20 (2011), 222.

[65] B. Cohen and M. Winn, “Market imperfections, opportunity and Sustainable Entrepreneurship”, Journal of Business Venturing, 22(1) (2007), 29.

[66] J. Bell and J. Stellingwerf, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: The Motivations & Challenges of Sustainable Entrepreneurs in the Renewable Energy Industry (Jonkoping, Sweden: Jonkoping International Business School Master Thesis in Business Administration, 2012), 8.

[67] Id. at 8-9.

[68] D. Gibbs, “Sustainability Entrepreneurs, Ecopreneurs and the Development of a Sustainable Economy”, Greener Management International, 55 (September 2006), 63, 68.

[69] A. Smith, “Transforming Technological Regimes for Sustainable Development: A Role for Alternative Technology Niches?”, Science and Public Policy, 30.2 (2003), 127, 130.

[70] R. Daft and D. Marcic, Understanding Management (5th Edition) (Mason, OH: South-Western Publishing Co., 2006), 147-148.

[71] F. Tilley and Young, “Sustainability Entrepreneurs — Could they be the True Wealth Generators of the Future?”, Greener Management International, 55 (2009), 79.

[72] J. Austin, H. Stevenson and J. Wei-Skillern, “Social and Commercial Entrepreneurship: Same, different, or both?”, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 30(1) (2006), 1, 2.

[73] P. van Eijck, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Institutional profile and cross-country comparison Denmark & US and its Viability (Rotterdam: Bachelor Thesis in Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Organizations Economics from Erasmus School of Economics, January 2012), 7.

[74] J. Dees, The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship (Stanford: Stanford University Graduate School of Business, 1998).

[75] P. Dacin, M. Dacin and M. Matear, “Social Entrepreneurship: Why we don’t need a new theory and how we move forward from here”, Academy of Management Perspectives, 24(2) (2010), 36.

[76] J. Dees, “Enterprising nonprofits”, Harvard Business Review 76(1) (1998), 54.

[77] P. van Eijck, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Institutional profile and cross-country comparison Denmark & US and its Viability (Rotterdam: Bachelor Thesis in Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Organizations Economics from Erasmus School of Economics, January 2012), 7-8.

[78] E. Crals and L. Vereeck, “The Affordability of Sustainable Entrepreneurship Certification for SMEs.” International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology 12(2) (2005), 173.

[79] J. Bell and J. Stellingwerf, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: The Motivations & Challenges of Sustainable Entrepreneurs in the Renewable Energy Industry (Jonkoping, Sweden: Jonkoping International Business School Master Thesis in Business Administration, 2012), 9.

[80] S. Dixon and A. Clifford, “Managing Ecopreneurship – a new approach the triple bottom line”, Journal of Organisational Change Management, 20(3) (2007), 326.

[81] S. Zahra, H. Rawhouser, N. Bhaw, D. Neubaum and J. Hayton, Globalisation of Social Entrepreneurship Opportunities. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. 2 (2008), 117.

[82] G. Lumpkin, T. Moss, D. Gras, S. Kato and A. Amezua, “Entrepreneurial processes in social contexts: how are they different, if at all?”, Small Business Economics (2011), 1.

[83] D. Bornstein, How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 15.

[84] See J. Austin, H. Stevenson and J. Wei-Skillern, “Social and commercial entrepreneurship: Same, different, or both?”, Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, 30(1) (2006), 1, 2 (stating that the existence of social-purpose organizations emerge when there is a social-market failure, i.e., commercial market forces do not meet a social need).

[85] J. Bell and J. Stellingwerf, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: The Motivations & Challenges of Sustainable Entrepreneurs in the Renewable Energy Industry (Jonkoping, Sweden: Jonkoping International Business School Master Thesis in Business Administration, 2012), 10.

[86] C. Leadbeater, The rise of the social entrepreneur (London: Demos, 1997).

[87] S. Zahra, H. Rawhouser, N. Bhaw, D. Neubaum and J. Hayton, Globalisation of Social Entrepreneurship Opportunities. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. 2 (2008), 117.

[88] G. Dees, The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship (1998).

[89] G. Dees, New definitions of Social Entrepreneurship: free eye exams and wheelchair drivers (2003).

[90] J. Mair and I. Martı´, “Social Entrepreneurship research: a source of explanation, prediction, and delight”, Journal of World Business, 41(1) (2006), 36.

[91] S. Zahra, E. Gedajlovic, D. Neubaum and J. Shulman, “A Typology of Social Entrepreneurs: Motives, Search Processes and Ethical Challenges”, Journal of Business Venturing, 24(5) (2009), 519.

[92] J. Bell and J. Stellingwerf, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: The Motivations & Challenges of Sustainable Entrepreneurs in the Renewable Energy Industry (Jonkoping, Sweden: Jonkoping International Business School Master Thesis in Business Administration, 2012), 11.

[93] S. Zahra, E. Gedajlovic, D. Neubaum and J. Shulman, “A Typology of Social Entrepreneurs: Motives, Search Processes and Ethical Challenges”, Journal of Business Venturing, 24(5) (2009), 526.

[94] J. Bell and J. Stellingwerf, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: The Motivations & Challenges of Sustainable Entrepreneurs in the Renewable Energy Industry (Jonkoping, Sweden: Jonkoping International Business School Master Thesis in Business Administration, 2012), 12.

[95] S. Schaltegger and M. Wagner, “Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Innovation: Categories and Interactions”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 20 (2011), 222, 226.

[96] See B. Cohen, B. Smith and R. Mitchell, “Toward a sustainable conceptualisation of dependent variables in entrepreneurship research”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 17(2) (2008), 107; and B. Cohen and M. Winn, “Market imperfections, opportunity and Sustainable Entrepreneurship”, Journal of Business Venturing 22(1) (2007), 29.

[97] Adapted from M. McCreless and B. Trelstad, “A GPS for Social Impact”, Stanford Social Innovation Review (Fall 2012), 21.

[98] I. Montiel, “Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Sustainability: Separate Pasts, Common Features”, Organization and Environment, 21(3) (September 2008), 245, 254 (citing UN World Commission on Environment and Development, Our common future (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1987), 43).

[99] Id.  For further discussion, see P. Bansal, “Evolving sustainably: A longitudinal study of corporate sustainable development”, Strategic Management Journal, 26(3) (2005), 197; and T. Gladwin and J. Kennelly, “Shifting paradigms for sustainable development: Implications for management theory and research”, Academy of Management Review, 20(4) (1995), 874.

[100] T. Dyllick and K. Hockerts, “Beyond the Business Case for Corporate Sustainability”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 11 (March 2002), 130, 131.

[101] Id. at 132.

[102] For further discussion of corporate social responsibility, see “Corporate Social Responsibility: A Library of Resources for Sustainable Entrepreneurs” prepared and distributed by the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Project (www.seproject.org).

[103] M. Marrewijk, Concepts and Definitions of CSR and Corporate Sustainability: Between Agency and Communion, Journal of Business Ethics, 44(2) (May 2003), 95.

[104] Id. at 260.

[105] J. Cramer-Montes, “Sustainability: A New Path to Corporate and NGO Collaborations”, The Economist (March 24, 2017), http://www.economist.com/node/10491124

[106] Id. at 135-136.

[107] L. DeSimone and F. Popoff, Eco-Efficiency: the Business Link to Sustainable Development (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997), 47.

[108] H. Verfaille and R. Bidwell, Measuring Eco-Efficiency, a Guide to Reporting Company Performance (Geneva: World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2000); and EU von Weizs¨acker, A. Lovins and H. Lovins, Factor Four – Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource Use (London: Earthscan, 1997).

[109] See, e.g., F. Figge and T. Hahn, “Sustainable value added–measuring corporate contributions to sustainability”, in Conference Proceedings on the 2001 Business Strategy and the Environment Conference in Leeds (Shipley: ERP Environment, 2001), 83; K. Hockerts, “The SusTainAbility Radar (STAR∗), a Step towards Corporate Sustainability Accounting—A Discussion Paper” (London: New Economics Foundation, 1996); and K. Hockerts, “The sustainability radar–a tool for the innovation of sustainable products and services”, Greener Management International, 25 (1999), 29.

[110] T. Dyllick and K. Hockerts, “Beyond the Business Case for Corporate Sustainability”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 11 (March 2002), 130, 136.

[111] T. Dyllick and K. Hockerts, “Beyond the Business Case for Corporate Sustainability”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 11 (March 2002), 130, 136.

[112] MBCD, Eco-Effectiveness – Nature’s Design Patterns (November 2001).  See also M. Braungart, “Ein Wirtschaftssystem f ¨ ur ‘intelligente Produkte’ anstatt einer High-Tech Abfallwirtschaft”, in K. Hockerts et al. (Eds.), Kreislaufwirtschaft statt Abfallwirtschaft (Ulm: Universit¨atsverlag, 1994), 45; and M. Braungart and W. McDonough “The next industrial revolution”, The Atlantic Monthly October, 282(4) (1998), 82.

[113] T. Dyllick and K. Hockerts, “Beyond the Business Case for Corporate Sustainability”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 11 (March 2002), 130, 137.

[114] T. Dyllick and K. Hockerts, “Beyond the Business Case for Corporate Sustainability”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 11 (March 2002), 130, 137 (citing, e.g., E. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful (London: Abacus, 1974); T. Gladwin, J. Kennelly and T. Krause, “Shifting paradigms for sustainable development: implications for management theory and research”, Academy of Management Review, 20(4) (1995), 874; J. Diekmann, “Okologischer Strukturwandel als vergessene Komponente des Ressourcenverbrauchs, Zwischen Effizienz und Suffizienz”, O¨ kologisches Wirtschaften 3 (1999), 25; and S. Zavestovski, “Environmental concern and anti-consumerism in the self-concept: do they share the same basis?” in M. Cohen and J. Murphy (Eds.), Exploring Sustainable Consumption (Amsterdam: Pergamon, 2001), 173).

[115] K. Hockerts, Sustainability Innovations, Ecological and Social Entrepreneurship and the Management of Antagonistic Assets (Difo-Druck: Bamberg, 2003), 30.

[116] T. Dyllick and K. Hockerts, “Beyond the Business Case for Corporate Sustainability”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 11 (March 2002), 130, 138.

[117] S. Hart and C. Prahalad, Strategies for the bottom of the pyramid: creating sustainable development (Unpublished draft paper, 1999).

[118] T. Dyllick and K. Hockerts, “Beyond the Business Case for Corporate Sustainability”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 11 (March 2002), 130, 138. Ecological equity is sometimes referred to as “ecological justice”. R. Gray and J. Bebbington, “Environmental accounting, managerialism and sustainability: is the planet safe in the hands of business and accounting?” in M. Freedman and B. Jaggi (Eds.), Advances in Environmental Accounting and Management Vol. 1 (Amsterdam: JAI, 2000).

[119] Id.  Dyllick and Hockerts argued that additional research should be conducted to fill in some of the gaps in defining their suggested criterion such as providing a systematic framework for both socio-efficiency and socio-effectiveness and developing business relevant criteria for issues such as ecological equity.  Id. at 139.

[120] W. McDonough and M. Braungart, “Design for the triple top line: new tools for sustainable commerce”, Corporate Environmental Strategy, 9(3) (2002), 251.

[121] W. Young and F. Tilley, “Can Businesses move Beyond Efficiency? The Shift towards Effectiveness and Equity in the Corporate Sustainability Debate”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 15 (2006), 402, 408.

[122] Id.

[123] T. Gladwin, J. Kennelly and T. Krause, “Shifting paradigms for sustainable development”, Academy of Management Review, 20(4) (1995), 874.

[124] E. Crals and L. Vereeck, “Sustainable entrepreneurship in SMEs—Theory and Practice”, http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/ptb/ejgc/ejgc3/cralsvereeck%20paper.pdf [accessed July 18, 2016], 2.

[125] Id.

[126] Id. at 3-4.

[127] J. Bell and J. Stellingwerf, Sustainable Entrepreneurship: The Motivations & Challenges of Sustainable Entrepreneurs in the Renewable Energy Industry (Jonkoping, Sweden: Jonkoping International Business School Master Thesis in Business Administration, 2012), 14-17.

[128] Id.

[129] E. Dionco-Adetayo, Determinants of Small firms’ Entrepreneurial success In a developing economy (2004); and H. Rahman and H. Singh, “Entrepreneurial Support and its levels of Success”, Global Journal for Research Analysis, 3(11) (2014).

[130] H. Rahman and H. Singh, “Economic and Environmental factors leading to Entrepreneurial success”, Indian Journal of Applied Research, 4(12 (2014)).

[131] C. Holliday, S. Schmidheiny and P. Watts, Walking the Talk – the Business Case for Sustainable Development (Sheffield: Greenleaf, 2002).

[132] W. Young and F. Tilley, “Can Businesses move Beyond Efficiency? The Shift towards Effectiveness and Equity in the Corporate Sustainability Debate”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 15 (2006), 402, 403.

[133] Id.

[134] W. Young and F. Tilley, “Can Businesses move Beyond Efficiency? The Shift towards Effectiveness and Equity in the Corporate Sustainability Debate”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 15 (2006), 402.

[135] F. Tilley and Young, “Sustainability Entrepreneurs — Could they be the True Wealth Generators of the Future?”, Greener Management International, 55 (2009), 79.

[136] Id.

[137] W. Young and F. Tilley, “Can Businesses move Beyond Efficiency? The Shift towards Effectiveness and Equity in the Corporate Sustainability Debate”, Business Strategy and the Environment, 15 (2006), 402, 407-409.

[138] Id. at 409-412.

[139] Id. at 411-412.

[140] Id. at 412.

[141] F. Tilley and Young, “Sustainability Entrepreneurs — Could they be the True Wealth Generators of the Future?”, Greener Management International, 55 (2009), 79.

[142] E. Crals and L. Vereeck, “Sustainable entrepreneurship in SMEs—Theory and Practice”, http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/ptb/ejgc/ejgc3/cralsvereeck%20paper.pdf [accessed July 18, 2016], 7-8.

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