RENT Conference, Research in Entrepreneurship and Small Business

Location: Determined Annually

Time: Fall Annually

Nowadays there is an increasing social and political awareness of the importance of the development of sustainable innovations. The Europe 2020 Strategy, which was adopted in 2010, was envisioned to move Europe out of the crisis and laying the foundations for a more sustainable future built on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Entrepreneurs have also realized in the last decades that they can contribute to social welfare as well as to an “ecologically sustainable economy”. In this sense, entrepreneurs increasingly place sustainability next to profitability within their business objectives. In this sense, the study of sustainable entrepreneurship has also gained prominence among scholars although is still considered an emergent research stream. Sustainable entrepreneurship can be defined as “the discovery, creation and exploitation of opportunities to create future goods and services that sustain the natural and/or communal environment and provide development gain for others” (Patzelt and Shepherd, 2011, p. 632).

Past literature has emphasized the importance of the entrepreneurial ecosystem consisting on the generic context (institutions, regulations, socio-economic factors) and the specific context (specific relations with stakeholders –suppliers, clients, government- and support systems) for engaging in successful innovation and entrepreneurial activities. This importance is even greater for sustainable entrepreneurship, since the recognition and implementation of sustainable opportunities is even more difficult than non-sustainable ones. Recent research suggests that the success of green start-ups depends on appropriate public and private support systems and that unfortunately these systems are still scarce in practice. Besides this, sustainable entrepreneurship not only depends on the context, but also on firms internal factors. In this sense, recent research suggests that practices of information sharing with employees and promoting employee collaboration is positively related with firms’ development of a proactive natural environmental strategy. In this line, it seems that stakeholder integration positively influences the development of proactive environmental strategies when managers perceive internal barriers to the development of such strategies. In addition, the contribution of the firm’s capacity for organizational learning it is key in getting profit of the experience acquired in challenging environmental internationalization processes when adopting a proactive environmental strategy.

It is important to advance this stream of research, which is still on its infancy, in order to provide fruitful research that helps to support sustainable entrepreneurship, as a way to stimulate regional and global competitiveness within a sustainable developing thinking.