Sustainability entrepreneurs, ecopreneurs and the development of a sustainable economy

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Author: David Gibbs
Date: Feb. 2009
Publisher: Greenleaf Publishing
Document Type: Article
Length: 8,598 words
Lexile Measure: 1560L

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This paper focuses on investigating the role that sustainability entrepreneurship may have in engendering a shift in the practices and operations of contemporary capitalism. Sustainability entrepreneurs are increasingly seen as being in the vanguard of a shift to a new form of capitalist development that can help to address fears over global warming, climate change and their associated negative environmental impacts. Such developments can be set within a wider popular and academic discourse of ecological modernisation, at the heart of which is a relatively optimistic view of the potential for technological change to lead to solutions for environmental problems. This paper focuses on a subset of sustainable entrepreneurs termed 'ecopreneurs' who seek to combine business practice with sustainable development and so transform their business sectors. The paper suggests that work on sustainable entrepreneurship could be substantially improved by an engagement with the literature on transition management in science and technology studies and makes some suggestions as to how such a research agenda could be advanced.

* Sustainable entrepreneur. ship

* Ecopreneurs

* Ecological modernisation

* Transition management

* Strategic niches

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THE FOCUS OF THIS PAPER IS ON INVESTIGATING THE ROLE THAT sustainability entrepreneurship, and in particular individual sustainable entrepreneurs, has in engendering a shift in the practices and operations of contemporary capitalism. Sustainability entrepreneurs are those who attempt to combine the environmental, economic and social components of sustainability in a holistic manner and are said to have a different organising logic to more conventional entrepreneurs (Tilley and Parrish 2006). In particular, sustainable entrepreneurs seek to use the enterprise as a tool for perpetuating resources involving 'whole enterprise design' focused on sustainable development (Parrish 2006). Increasingly, both the popular media and a small, but growing, set of academic literature have focused upon the role of these individuals as being in the vanguard of a shift to a new form of capitalist development that can help to directly address fears over global warming, climate change and their associated negative environmental impacts (Beveridge and Guy 2005). Moreover, many of these sustainable entrepreneurs are said to operate their businesses in ways that run counter to popular perceptions of entrepreneurial behaviour (Hart 2006). As opposed to being the ruthless profit-seeking capitalists of popular imagination (as portrayed in a number of recent UK reality television programmes such as The Apprentice and Dragon's Den), sustainable entrepreneurs supposedly display a different mentality as evidenced through donations to environmental causes, employee-friendly working conditions, an interest in wider social issues than bottom-line profits and a concern for the longer-term implications of their business activities (Harvey 2007). Indeed, many sustainability entrepreneurs are happy to advertise their 'alternative' credentials through their own publicity, promotional material and websites and may cultivate an linage of themselves as being outside the mainstream of business. (1) We can see such developments within a wider popular and academic discourse of ecological modernisation, at the heart of which is a relatively optimistic view of the potential for technological change to lead to solutions for environmental problems (Roberts and Colwell 2001).

It could be...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A195011916