Report for the secondment to Vetuan Valley, Madrid, as part of WP2 “Factors and motivation for sustainable entrepreneurship”

by Prof Martina Battisti

This report outlines the comprehensive range of activities undertaken during my secondment at Tetuan Valley, Madrid from 25 September to 3 November 2023.

I recently had the opportunity to do a secondment in Madrid, Spain, as part of the EM4FIT project/WP2 – “Factors and motivation for sustainable entrepreneurship”. This work package encourages research into the factors or mechanisms that motivate and prevent sustainable entrepreneurship.

During my secondment in Madrid, I worked on a project that explores the relationship between sustainability orientation and performance in small firms. Previous research on this relationship is inconclusive. Some studies argue that sustainability-oriented small firms perform better because they are more innovative. Others argue that they perform worse as they are too resource constrained to be sustainable and innovative at the same time. This points towards a potentially complex relationship between sustainability, innovativeness and performance in small firms. In this study, my colleagues and I argue that entrepreneurial resource mobilization strategies are pivotal for sustainability-oriented small firms to achieve a win-win situation by mitigating the negative impact of resource constraints and leveraging the positive effects of innovativeness on performance. We conceptualize entrepreneurial resource mobilization as a combination of two strategies – bricolage and resource-induced coping heuristics. While bricolage is a behavioral mechanism through which entrepreneurs use whatever resources that are at hand to address imminent challenges, resource-induced coping is a cognitive mechanism that allows entrepreneurs to anticipate the acquisition, protection and development of resources in contexts on uncertainty. Despite differing in their underlying mechanism, they are both most effective in resource-constrained environments. By combining bricolage with resource-induced coping heuristics we address recent calls to explore resource mobilization strategies in combination with each other. In particular, our understanding of how cognitive resource mobilization strategies interact with behavioral strategies is still limited, despite extant research pointing towards the important role of cognition in mobilizing resources in small firms. Findings from the study provide relevant theoretical as well as practical implications. During the secondment, I was able to develop a first full draft manuscript and to submit an abstract to an entrepreneurship conference. In addition, I was also able to scope new research opportunities on sustainable entrepreneurship by reviewing the latest literature and reviewing existing datasets.

The secondment allowed me to exchange with colleagues from CUNEF on a topic of shared interest. In particular, I participated in several research seminars that stimulated debate and I had the chance to gather feedback and comments from several faculty members on our study. In addition to the exchange with colleagues from CUNEF, I also benefited from the exchange with other invited and visiting researchers. Engaging in some social activities also helped to create a network of colleagues and friends who share a common research interest in entrepreneurship and small business research.

Lastly, being hosted by Tetuan Valley a startup accelerator and co-working space located in Madrid gave me a great opportunity to better understand the local startup ecosystem and compare trends across different contexts. Tetuan Valley provided a vibrant and stimulating environment with startups working on innovative solutions for various social and environmental challenges.

Overall, my secondment in Madrid was a very enriching and rewarding experience that contributed to both my personal and professional development. I was able to make significant progress on a research project, I gained valuable knowledge and I also established connections and collaborations that will provide future research opportunities. I am very grateful to the EM4FIT project for providing me with this opportunity, and to CUNEF and Tetuan Valley for hosting me during my stay.