Work Package 2

Factors and Motivation for Sustainable Entrepreneurship

This work package aims to unveil what kind of factors or mechanisms that motivate and prevent sustainable entrepreneurship. It does so by undertaking comparative research from a multi-level perspective including individual and institutional variables. The studies will consider both advanced and emerging market economies. The objective of this work package is therefore to explore context-specific cross-level drivers and hinders of sustainable entrepreneurship.

Sustainable entrepreneurial action is about turning ideas into action and delivering products and services with a focus on sustainability issues such as social- and societal considerations, environmental degradation and climate change (Cohen & Winn, 2007; Dean & McMullen, 2007; Shepherd & Patzelt, 2010). Sustainable entrepreneurship refers to ‘the recognition, development and exploitation of opportunities by individuals to bring into existence future goods and services with economic, social and ecological gains’ (Belz & Binder, 2017) and has two significant features: One the one hand, it focuses on sustainability through preservation of nature, life support and community issues in the pursuit of opportunities (Shepherd & Patzelt, 2011), and on the other hand side it emphasizes the necessity of ‘traditional’ economic goals and performance measures such as firm survival, growth and developing financial outcome (Venkataraman, 1997). This call for an entrepreneurial behaviour that may balance the non-economic outcomes relating to citizens, society and the environment (Markman et al., 2016) and its potential positive and/or negative relationship with economic and financial outcomes (Hockerts & Wüstenhagen, 2010).

The field of sustainable entrepreneurship is still in an emerging stage, and there is a need to develop and incorporate sustainability and non-economic considerations further into our understanding and actions in terms of entrepreneurship and growth both in research as well as in future practice (Belz & Binder, 2017). We argue that we need a deeper understanding of what motivates and prevent sustainable entrepreneurship in various markets and contexts.

According to previous research in entrepreneurship, factors at different levels include individual (Unger et al. 2011; e.g. risk willingness, self-efficacy), team (Ruef & Aldrich, 2003; e.g., team size, team diversity), organizational (Senderovitz et al., 2016; e.g. strategy, industry) and country-level (Klyver et al., 2013; e.g., social networks, legislation, culture) variables. These factors could affect entrepreneurial outcomes such as idea generation, entrepreneurial intentions, values, start-up behaviour, etc. These factors in combination decide whether newly founded businesses survive, grow and achieve its financial and potential non-financial goals.

Considering the nature of multi-level and multi-aspect of sustainable entrepreneurship (Bansal 2019), using a multilevel and process-oriented view will allow us to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the drivers and hinders of sustainable entrepreneurship. Viewing sustainable entrepreneurship as a multi-level phenomenon requires investigations into how different factors – in combination and across levels – function to influence the start-up and growth processes. Variation in sustainable entrepreneurial activity, behaviour and outcome in various countries and regions can be explained by variation in talent and/or differences in social-intuitional and macro-economic factors (Baumol, 1996). For instance, there might be different combinations of individual-level traits and preferences as well as contextual factors like individualism and collectivism that may have a different and distinct effect on sustainable entrepreneurial intentions and outcomes (Carolis et al., 2009; Rooks et al., 2016).

There will be secondments implemented by SDU, GEM, SGCTeIP, AUI, LES and CUNEF related to the WP tasks. The other participating partners will contribute to the WP through their business networks by establishing contacts to relevant interview partners for the multi-case study.