Sustainability and Environmental Issues Business Resource Materials

Entrepreneurship Law Editorial Team



Abstract (from publisher):  An ecopreneur can be anyone who wants to be successful at earning a living by solving environmental problems. Focuses on small scale start-ups and provides information on basic entrepreneuring, including how to get the necessary training, developing viable ecobusiness ideas, funding an ecobusiness, marketing, and managing growth. Also covered are specific ecobusiness opportunities in the fields of recycling and waste reduction techniques and providing products and services for the environmentally aware lifestyle.


Abstract (from publisher): In this timely guide for conscientious entrepreneurs, Gustav Berle describes many of the exciting new business opportunities that have been greater by the increasing public demand for a cleaner, greener world. This book shows business owners how they can make money in hazardous waste clean-up, recycling, waste disposal and processing, energy development, transportation, investment, manufacturing, and other fields. A directory of organizations that can assist in starting up an environmentally conscious business is included.

Brewster Boyd, Nina Henning, Emily Reyna, Daniel E. Wang & Matthew D. Welch, HYBRID ORGANIZATIONS: NEW BUSINESS MODELS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP (2009).

Product Description (from Amazon):  The companies are pioneers, the first-movers in market shifts that will eventually become mainstream. These hybrid organizations or what others call values-driven or mission-driven organizations operate in the blurry space between the for-profit and non-profit worlds. They are redefining their supply chains, their sources of capital, their very purpose for being; and in the process they are changing the market for others. Using a combination of high-level survey analysis and, more importantly, in-depth executive interviews, the book helps fill the present gap in literature on environmentally focused and financially driven for-profit businesses. Moreover, it highlights key trends and critical themes that enable this new wave of socially conscious and fiscally minded enterprises to be successful in meeting both sets of goals. The takeaway for readers of this book is not only an appreciation for common business practices that hybrid organizations adopt, but also an understanding of the complexity of the integration of such adoption that allows them to successfully achieve both mission- and market-driven goals.


Product Description (from Amazon):  Green entrepreneur and scientist Dr. Glenn Croston outlines green business essentials and helps you uncover eco-friendly opportunities, build a sustainable business plan, and gain the competitive advantage in today's environmentally mindful market.

Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Sustainability (Marcus Wagner, ed., 2012).

Abstract (adapted from publisher): This book addresses the intersection of entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainability (EIS). The EIS nexus is particularly relevant from a European point of view given the focus of the European Commission on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability, as well as their prominent role the European Union in general. Also, the rapid economic growth witnessed especially in the BRIC countries in recent years requires that firms reconcile sustainability aspects with profitability and innovation, and entrepreneurs are seen as key diffusers of these aims. The book is split into six sections. The first section examines the nexus in detail focusing on system-oriented connectivity between sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship. The second section looks at how to nurture corporate entrepreneurship for sustainability; and the third considers ‘mature’ industries such as automotives, chemicals and electronics and how sustainability aspects can be integrated into innovation process and strategy. The fourth section examines the nexus through the lens of developing countries in Africa. Sustainable entrepreneurship is identified as a hugely beneficial way to foster development. The fifth section of the book concentrates on SMEs; and finally the EIS nexus is approached from a network perspective and focuses on inter-organisational partnerships, which are often an important facilitator or spark for EIS initiatives.

Entrepreneurship and Sustainability: Business Solutions for Poverty Alleviation from around the World (Daphne Halkias & Paul W. Thurman, eds., 2012).

Abstract (from publisher): In "Entrepreneurship and Sustainability" the editors and contributors challenge the notion that not-for-profit social entrepreneurship is the only sort that can lead to the alleviation of poverty. Entrepreneurship for profit is not just about the entrepreneur doing well. Entrepreneurs worldwide are leading successful for - profit ventures which contribute to poverty alleviation in their communities. With the challenge of global poverty before them, entrepreneurs continue to develop innovative, business-oriented ventures that deliver promising solutions to this complex and urgent agenda. This book explores how best to bring commercial investors together with those who are best placed to reach the poorest customers. With case studies from around the World, the focus of the contributions is on the new breed of entrepreneurs who are blending a profit motive with a desire to make a difference in their communities and beyond borders. A number of the contributions here also recognize that whilst much research has been devoted to poverty alleviation in developing countries, this is only part of the story. Studies in this volume also focus upon enterprise solutions to poverty in pockets of significant deprivation in high-income countries, such as the Appalachia region of the US, in parts of Europe, and the richer Asian countries. Much has been written about the achievements of socially orientated non-profit microfinance institutions. This valuable, academically rigorous but accessible book will help academics, policy makers, and business people consider what the next generation of more commercially orientated banks for the 'bottom billion' might look like.

Robert Freilich, From Sprawl to Smart Growth: Successful Legal, Planning, and Environmental Systems (2000).

Abstract (from Amazon Product Description): A step-by-step guide-complete with proven cases from around the country-showing how states and local governments can control sprawl, maintain urban areas, enlarge their quality of life through new urban and mixed use developments.

Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins &  L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (1999).

Abstract (from Review): They call their approach natural capitalism because it's based on the principle that business can be good for the environment. For instance, Interface of Atlanta doubled revenues and employment and tripled profits by creating an environmentally friendly system of recycling floor coverings for businesses. The authors also describe how the next generation of cars is closer than we might think. Manufacturers are already perfecting vehicles that are ultralight, aerodynamic, and fueled by hybrid gas-electric systems. If natural capitalism continues to blossom, so much money and resources will be saved that societies will be able to focus on issues such as housing, contend Hawken, author of a book and PBS series called Growing a Business, and the Lovinses, who cofounded and directed the Rocky Mountain Institute, an environmental think tank. The book is a fascinating and provocative read for public-policy makers, as well as environmentalists and capitalists alike.

Andrew Heintzman, The New Entrepreneurs: Building a Green Economy for the Future  (2010).  

Abstract (from In The New Entrepreneurs, author and venture capitalist Andrew Heintzman introduces us to a burgeoning class of entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of the green-tech economy. From forestry to water to agriculture and oil, Heintzman maps out the leading enterprises that are developing cutting-edge, high-profit, clean-tech products and systems for export to a vast and rapidly expanding global market. Powerful, timely, and necessary, The New Entrepreneurs offers a fresh and visionary approach to redesigning our current economic system, one that uses the powerful forces within capitalism to act as a catalyst for change — and profit.

Laura E. Higgins, Environmental Entrepreneurship: Markets Meet the Environment in Unexpected Places (2013).

Abstract (adapted from publisher): The author finds trailblazing entrepreneurial solutions to difficult environmental challenges in some of the world's poorest areas. The approaches entrepreneurs are taking to these challenges involve establishing property rights and encouraging market exchange. From beehives to barbed wire, these tools are creating positive incentives and promoting both economic development and environmental improvements. The case studies are from the developing world and reveal where the biggest victories for less poverty and more conservation can be won. The pursuit begins by learning from local people solving local problems.

Environmental Entrepreneurship encourages a broad audience to consider secure property rights and free markets as key ingredients to moving out of poverty and improving environmental quality at the same time. 


Abstract (from publisher): The authors focus primarliy on how entrepreneurial efforts can incorporate values and priorities beyond the bottom line. Lifestyle choices trump profit motives, but neither have to be sacrificed in order to create meaning and income.   This kind of positive thinking is repeated again and again throughout the book. In addition to sharing their own success, and the stories of others, Ecopreneuring is filled with practical information about starting and running a small green business. A potential ecopreneur will discover ideas on everything from bookkeeping to marketing, and the authors point to numerous other resources that will help you set up your company, and run your business without running afoul of tax codes, licensing agencies, or litigious competitors.


Product Description (from Amazon):  The squeeze on carbon is beginning in earnest. By 2020, we will have made a start on running our homes, workplaces and vehicles in smarter and less polluting ways. By 2050, we should have reconfigured how we generate power, conserve water and manage waste. But talk of an 80% cut in carbon emissions remains an extraordinarily ambitious goal, particularly when new economic powers like China and India are added to the equation. Ideas for switching to a low-carbon world are bound to take numerous forms. For businesses, the challenge is to find a way of commercializing these ideas. Although their scale can be small and the set-up costs high, the overall potential of this shift is enormous, as evidenced by the amount of private capital and public funds looking for clean technology in which to invest.


Product Description (from Amazon):  This book explains how corporate social responsibility is linked to long-term sustainability of an economy and that the activities of an organization should not be only for its self-interest, but must also be honed for the benefit of common good. A major approach the book advocates is corporate decision-makers in an organization should work towards earning the trust of stakeholders rather than focus on short-term profitability.

Eric Koester, Green Entrepreneur Handbook: The Guide to Building and Growing a Green and Clean Business (2010/2011).

Abstract (from Written by a practicing business attorney with startup experience in the environmental and technology sectors, Green Entrepreneur Handbook: The Guide to Building and Growing a Green and Clean Business assists entrepreneurs in tackling the wide variety of opportunities to go green. It helps you incorporate clean technology, environmental practices, and green business approaches into your work environment. The first section of the book lays the groundwork for any new entrepreneur to understand the history of the environmental and clean technology movements.

The next section takes a new business from initial idea to sales of the product or service. The book addresses where greentrepreneurs can find ideas around which to build a business; how to form a company to execute the business concept; how to find and retain founders, employees, advisors, and directors; how to raise money and make sales; and the importance of intellectual capital and assets.

Emphasizing aspects unique to the green business environment, the third part provides a sound understanding of utilities and energy generation and distribution and explores funding through project finance. It also looks at the players and process of selling to the government; the federal, state, and local regulatory impacts; government incentives and tax programs designed to spur clean technology development; and grants, loans, and other funds as sources of capital.

In the fourth section, the author covers lessons learned and emerging challenges. He offers practical suggestions for going green that businesses can implement themselves and describes current green certifications. He also examines the role of venture capital and institutional investors in green innovation, international trends in green business, and the potential for exit events, such as public offerings, mergers, and acquisitions.

The final part focuses on lessons, tools, resources, and fundamentals essential to any entrepreneur. It discusses market research and business planning, details of forming a business, issues of employing people, smart intellectual property management, obstacles encountered in a difficult fundraising climate, and much more.

Michael Pirson, Case Studies in Social Entrepreneurship: The oikos Collection (2014).

Abstract (from publisher): The oikos-Ashoka case competition for social entrepreneurship was conceived in 2007 as a way to help find great material and case studies in this emerging field. This fourth collection of oikos case studies is based on the winning cases from the 2010 to 2014 annual case competitions. These cases have been highly praised because they provide excellent learning opportunities, tell engaging stories, deal with recent situations, include quotations from key actors, are thought-provoking and controversial, require decision-making, provide clear takeaways and are all supported by teaching guidance and comprehensive teaching notes available to faculty.

The cases are clustered in three different sections: Socially oriented Enterprise Cases Health and Fair trade, Ecologically oriented social enterprises, and Corporate Social Entrepreneurship. Case Studies in Social Entrepreneurship will be an essential purchase for educators and is likely to be a widely used as a course textbook at all levels of management education.


Abstract (from publisher):  A guide to implementing broad-scale environmental changes in business uses case studies from actual companies to outline how managers and owners can make sound, affordable, innovative business decisions that work for the environment and produce profits.


Abstract (based on a review in the Financial Times, July 5, 2006):  In this book the author makes the case that no company or manager can afford any longer to ignore the world around them. Many of the reasons companies face "the age of accountability" are familiar, but it is useful to see them pulled together: our shared sense of vulnerability, fostered by climate change and natural disasters, coupled with the awesome power that global corporations have accumulated; the goldfish bowl in which companies operate; their increased exposure through networks of business partners and global supply chains; the campaigns mounted by lawyers, non-governmental organizations and shareholder activists.  Its central argument is an upbeat one that is gaining currency: it makes financial sense for companies to anticipate and respond to society's emerging demands. In the long run, says the author, the sustainable company is likely to be highly profitable.

Michael Schaper, Making Ecopreneurs (2nd ed. 2010).

Abstract (from  The first edition of this book looked at the emergence of 'ecopreneurs' - environmental entrepreneurs gaining competitive advantage for their firms through understanding and utilizing green issues. These green entrepreneurs have led the way in enabling market forces to generate economic growth whilst protecting the environment and encouraging sustainability.   

This new edition continues the examination of what distinguishes these green entrepreneurs from others. It draws on a diverse range of case studies embracing examples of both successful and unsuccessful ecopreneurial ventures on at least four continents. Contributions have been updated and a number of entirely new chapters describe sustainable business projects in places ranging from the USA, India, western Europe, UK, Australia, central America and New Zealand. "Making Ecopreneurs, Second Edition", charts recent developments and remains highly relevant to researchers in the fields of sustainable business development and entrepreneurship, to policymakers within governments and NGOs, and to those running businesses.

Elizabeth U, Raising Dough: The Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business (2013).

Abstract (from publisher): More and more entrepreneurs are using food-based businesses to solve social and environmental problems - and yet the majority of them report that a lack of access to capital prevents them from launching, maintaining, or growing their ventures. Raising Dough is an unprecedented guide to the full range of financing options available to support sustainable food businesses.

Raising Dough provides valuable insights into the world of finance, including descriptions of various capital options, including traditional debt and equity, government grant and loan programs, and cutting-edge models such as crowdfunding and community-based alternatives; guiding questions to help determine which capital options are the most appropriate given the size, stage, entity type, growth plans, mission, and values of an enterprise; case studies and testimonials highlighting the experiences of food system entrepreneurs who have been there before, including both success stories and cautionary tales; and referrals to sources of capital, financiers, investor networks, and other financial resources. Written primarily for people managing socially responsible food businesses, the resources and tips covered in this book will benefit social entrepreneurs - and their investors - working in any sector.


Abstract (from product description at  More than ever before, consumers, employees, and investors share a common purpose and a passion for companies that do well by doing good. So any strategy without sustainability at its core is just plain irresponsible - bad for business, bad for shareholders, bad for the environment.  Sustainability is now a true competitive strategic advantage, and building it into the core of your business is the only means to ensure that your company - and your world - will survive.

Rafael Ziegler et al., Social Entrepreneurship in the Water Sector: Getting Things Done Sustainably (2014).

Abstract (from publisher): There are few sectors where “getting things done sustainably” is as important as it is for the water sector. From drinking water and sanitation to water use in agriculture, industry and ecosystems, Rafael Ziegler and his co-authors investigate the contribution of social entrepreneurship to the sustainable use of water.

Using detailed case studies from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, the authors assess the role and potential of social entrepreneurship for the sustainable use of water. In addition, they examine the ethics and politics of new ideas for sustainability in the water sector. In so doing, they critically discuss the impact of these new innovations, with the emphasis on ideas changing heads rather than money changing hands.

By bringing together questions from ecology, ethics, management and political science, and drawing on research in close collaboration with practitioners across the world, the approach taken is both inter- and trans-disciplinary. The result will be of significant interest to researchers and practitioners in social entrepreneurship and social innovation, as well as in water and sustainability politics.


Frank-Martin Belz & Julia Katharina Binder, Sustainability Entrepreneurship: A Process Model (2013), available at

Abstract (adapted from authors): Sustainability Entrepreneurship (sometimes also referred to as “Sustainable Entrepreneurship”) is an emerging stream of research. We define sustainability entrepreneurship as the process of recognizing, developing and exploiting entrepreneurial opportunities that create economic, ecological, and social value. Up to date the academic discourse on sustainable development within the mainstream entrepreneurship literature has been sparse, and there are relatively few empirical studies. There is little known about the process of sustainability entrepreneurship: Is it the same, similar or different in comparison to conventional entrepreneurship? The findings indicate that in comparison to conventional entrepreneurship the SEP is similar in some respect, and yet different in others. Based on a systematic literature review the authors suggest a model of the SEP, which consists of the following six phases: 1) recognizing socio-ecological problems; 2) recognizing entrepreneurial opportunities; 3) aligning socio-ecological problems with entrepreneurial opportunities; 4) developing an integral sustainability market solution; 5) forming a sustainability enterprise; and 6) entering the (sustainability) market. 

Frank-Martin Belz & Julia Katharina Binder, Sustainable Entrepreneurial Processes: An Explorative Investigation (2013), available at

Abstract (adapted from authors): Despite the prevalence of sustainable development on political and public agendas in the last 25 years, current production and consumption practices are not sustainable and contribute to the degradation of the natural environment. An emerging stream of research has recently gained considerable attention as it posits that entrepreneurship provides a solution to the challenges associated with sustainable development. To investigate sustainable entrepreneurial processes (SEP), the authors conducted a qualitative study, employing a multiple case study design for theory development. The authors selected six cases of newly founded sustainable enterprises, including CoffeeCircle, Globe Hope, Greenriders, Polarstern, Mia Höyto, and Netcycler. These selections represent cases from different countries (Germany and Finland), categories (tangible and intangible products) and industries (food, textile, mobility, energy, cosmetics, trade) to allow analytical induction and generalization. Based on the empirical data we developed two models of SEP, which consist of three phases (recognition, development, and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities), including the following activities: recognizing socio-ecological problems; recognizing entrepreneurial opportunities; aligning socio-ecological problems and entrepreneurial opportunities; developing an integral sustainable opportunity; funding and forming a sustainable enterprise; as well as creating or entering sustainable markets. The findings imply that SEP might occur in different sequences. While the majority of cases went through a linear sequence of activities, two out of six cases experienced a convergent sequence of activities in their SEP. In comparison to conventional entrepreneurship the authors found three distinct features of sustainable entrepreneurship: 1) recognizing socio-ecological problems, 2) aligning socio-ecological problems and entrepreneurial opportunities, and 3) developing an integral sustainable opportunity are distinct activities for sustainable entrepreneurship.

Katja Crnogaj et al., Building a Model of Researching the Sustainable Entrepreneurship in the Tourism Sector, 43 Kybernetes 377 (2014).

Abstract (by authors): The tourism sector is heavily dependent on entrepreneurship and cannot survive in the long run if it is not both sustainable and entrepreneurial at the same time; these three areas – entrepreneurship, sustainability, and tourism – are rarely linked in research and are not reflected in appropriate policy-making measures. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual multilevel model that will provide a requisitely holistic means for studying sustainable entrepreneurship in the tourism sector. In the process of developing a model, the authors took into account the principle of requisite variety and considered various dimensions related to sustainable entrepreneurship implicated at three levels of analysis – namely, individual (entrepreneur), organizational (SME), and national/regional (tourism destination).

The proposed model provides systemic and systematic views on sustainable entrepreneurship in the tourism sector and contains various levels of analysis. The holistic framework for studying sustainable entrepreneurship in the tourism helps highlight influential elements from an economics point of view as well as their measurable and internationally comparable outcomes. The suggested model represents an initial step toward the measurement of sustainable entrepreneurship in tourism at various levels, thereby making a valuable contribution to future research designs seeking to evaluate the benefits of sustainable entrepreneurship. The paper provides an important foundation for evidence-based policy making with the aim of fostering requisitely holistic behavior and innovative, responsible, and sustainable entrepreneurship practices in the tourism sector.

Anestis K. Fotiadis, Chris A. Vassiliadis & Panayotis D. Rekleitis, Constraints and Benefits of Sustainable Development: A Case Study Based on the Perceptions of Small-Hotel Entrepreneurs in Greece, 24 Anatolia - An Int’l J. Tourism & Hospitality Res. 144 (2013).

Abstract (by authors): This study examined the perceptions of small- and middle-size hotel entrepreneurs of the benefits and constraints of sustainability and business development. Results indicated that the hotel owners’ interest in sustainable tourism development is related to how it can enable them to achieve environmental and social benefits for their enterprises. The basic reasons which inhibit them from adopting sustainable development practices are the high cost of investment and the uncertain payment of this cost. The major academic contribution of this study is the application of a model that integrates micro-perspectives to explore constraints and benefits related to sustainable development in the context of the hotel industry in Greece.

David Gibbs, Sustainability Entrepreneurs, Ecopreneurs and the Development of a Sustainable Economy, 55 Greener Mgm’t Int’l 63 (2009).

Abstract (from author): 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.

 Kent Gilges, A Case Study: Elements of Success in Environmental Entrepreneurship (PERC Research, Paper No. 12-18, 2012), available at

Abstract (by author): The volume of capital that is being directed at companies with an Environmental-Social Governance (ESG) best practices approach has grown significantly in the past 15 years. According to the Social Investment Forum Foundation, professionally managed assets following Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) strategies in 2010 included $3.07 trillion in total assets under management. This has grown from approximately $639 billion in 1995. The subset of  ESG  investing,  often  dubbed  “Impact Investing,”  has  increasingly become an interest of some foundations and high net worth individuals who seek to accomplish social or environmental programmatic goals alongside market-based returns. This approach looks for businesses that incorporate social or environmental outcomes as a stated objective paired with financial goals. Efforts to pair these environmental and economic goals are often called double bottom line businesses, or “double-E” businesses.  Efforts to incorporate environmental, equity (social justice), and economic goals are called triple-bottom  line, or  “triple-E,” businesses.  

Joseph Karl Grant, When Making Money and Making a Sustainable and Societal Difference Collide: Will Benefit Corporations Succeed or Fail? 46 Ind. L. Rev. 581 (2013).

Abstract (by author): This article explores benefit corporations as a tool entrepreneurs can use to make money, foster environmental sustainability, and create societal improvement. Part I briefly examines who has been advocating for the creation and passage of benefit corporation legislation in the United States. Part II analyzes the statutory requirements to form a benefit corporation. Specifically, Part II discusses the issues of purpose, accountability, transparency, rights of action, and enforcement of those rights in connection with the creation and operation of a benefit corporation. Part III highlights the states that have passed benefit corporation statutes and highlights those considering similar legislation. Part IV examines the pre-existing use of benefit entities, in unincorporated form, through exploration of the benefit certification process. Finally, Part V offers a future prognosis and debates whether benefit corporations will succeed or fail.

Geoffrey Gareth Jones & Andrew Spadafora, Waste, Recycling and Entrepreneurship in Central and Northern Europe, 1870-1940 (Harvard Business School General Management Unit, Working Paper No. 14-084, 2014), available at

Abstract (by authors): This working paper examines the role of entrepreneurs in the municipal solid waste industry in industrialized central and northern Europe from the late nineteenth century to the 1940s. It explores the emergence of numerous German, Danish and other European entrepreneurial firms explicitly devoted to making a profitable business out of conserving and returning valuable resources to productive use, while maintaining public sanitation and in many cases offering nascent environmental protections. These ventures were qualitatively different from both earlier small-scale private waste traders, and the late twentieth-century integrated waste management firms, and have been neglected in an era that historians have treated as a period of municipalization. These entrepreneurs sometimes had strikingly modern views of environmental challenges and the need to overcome them. They initiated processes for sorting and recycling waste materials that are still employed today. Yet it proved difficult to combine making profits and achieving social value in accordance with the "shared value" model of today. As providers of public goods such as health and sanitation and a cleaner environment the entrepreneurs were often unable to capture sufficient profits to sustain businesses. Recycled-goods markets were volatile. There was also a tension between the constant waste stream on the collection side and a seasonal/cyclical demand for recycled products. The frequent failure of these businesses helps to explain why in more recent decades private waste companies have been associated with late entry into recycling, often trailing municipal governments and non-profit entities.

Susanna Khavul & Garry D. Bruton, Harnessing Innovation for Change: Sustainability and Poverty in Developing Countries, 50 J. Mgmt. Stud. 285 (2013), available at

Abstract (by authors): To date, a welldeveloped business perspective on how to promote sustainability for those in poverty is sorely lacking. For sustainability enhancing innovations in developing countries, poverty presents unique challenges. In this paper, the authors argue that if sustainability enhancing innovations introduced in developing countries are to stick, they need to be designed with local customers, networks, and business ecosystems in mind. This paper illustrates this view using case examples from mobile telephony, fuel efficient stoves, clean drinking water, and household electrification. The study underscores the need for today's managers to understand poverty as an integral part of the sustainability nexus and the new international business equation.

Pablo Munoz, A Fuzzy Set Approach to Empirical Typologies in Sustainability Entrepreneurship (Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference, 2012), available at

Abstract (adapted from author): There is a growing recognition that modern societies face a number of structural problems primarily derived from unsustainable business practices. In this regard, sustainability oriented entrepreneurs are seen as key agents of change and creators of sustainable growth and development. This paper pursues two aims: (1) to empirically identify sustainability entrepreneurs using criteria that go beyond an overall commitment to sustainability and involve a more complex set of characteristics; (2) to organize the potential heterogeneity of sustainability entrepreneur into coherent typology that can facilitate further understanding and theorizing on this topic. This paper makes a broader contribution to both theorizing and research design in the study of entrepreneurial processes and outcomes. It provides refined knowledge and theoretical language on complex causation that facilitate the construction of arguments based on the logic of necessary and sufficient conditions. In addition, it offers a reliable technique for delineating empirical cases of interest that can help ensures rigor and reliability of further studies of both descriptive and explanatory nature.

Thomas Lans, Vincent Blok & Renate Wesselink, Learning Apart and Together: Towards an Integrated Competence Framework for Sustainable Entrepreneurship in Higher Education, 62 J. Cleaner Production 37 (2014).

Abstract (by authors): Sustainable entrepreneurs, i.e. those who proactively facilitate latent demands for sustainable development, are now in higher demand than ever before. Higher (business) education can play an important role in laying the foundation for these sustainable entrepreneurs. Traditionally, however, educational scholars focus either on the issue of education for sustainability or on entrepreneurship education. There is little work which explores and/or crosses the boundaries between these two disciplines, let alone work in which an effort is made to integrate these perspectives. In this article, a competence approach was taken as a first step to link the worlds of education for entrepreneurship and for sustainability because the authors postulate that both, apparently different, worlds can reinforce each other. Based on a literature review, focus group discussions with teachers in higher education (n = 8) and a structured questionnaire among students (n = 211), a set of clear, distinct competencies was developed, providing stepping stones for monitoring students’ sustainable entrepreneurship development in school-based environments.

Amina Omrane, Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development: The Role of Business Models (2013), available at

Abstract (by author): Faced with challenges raised by sustainable development, several nations, and …  other social actors, are questioning their roles and wish to take proactive approaches of social responsibility. However, in general they have few means to achieve their objectives. The purpose of this communication is to show that social entrepreneurship, as an assistance tool for the government and applied to the resolution of social problems, can provide an analysis framework in order to provide a response to the challenges of sustainable development. In order to achieve this, we have to show the usefulness of the different business models developed in social entrepreneurship, particularly in the European context. We conclude that social business models constitute a basic relay that allows social entrepreneurs to contribute actively to sustainable development.

Bradley D. Parrish & Timothy J. Foxon, Sustainability Entrepreneurship and Equitable Transitions to a Low-Carbon Economy, 55 Greener Mgm’t Int’l 47 (2009).

Abstract (from authors): Sustainability-driven entrepreneurs design ventures with the primary intention of contributing to improved environmental quality and social well-being in ways that are mutually supportive. It has been suggested that these entrepreneurs can function as important catalysts to larger-scale socioeconomic structural transformations toward sustainability. However, the actual mechanisms underlying such a role are empirically under-researched and theoretically underdeveloped. In this study we investigate the possible catalytic role of sustainability entrepreneurship in the equitable transition to a low-carbon economy. We do this by developing a co-evolutionary framework that links the interactive dynamics of change in technologies, institutions and business strategies, and use this framework to analyse an empirical case study of NativeEnergy, an innovative, for-profit, marketing and finance company launched in the context of the evolving US energy industry. The Article concludes by assessing the more general lessons that may be drawn about the role of sustainability entrepreneurs as catalysts to socioeconomic structural transformations.

Holger Patzelt & Dean A. Shepherd, Recognizing Opportunities for Sustainable Development, 35 Entrepren. Theory & Prac. 631 (2011).

Abstract (adapted from journal): Building on the entrepreneurial action and sustainable development literatures, the authors highlight how the current explanations of opportunity recognition, based on entrepreneurial knowledge and economic motivation, are insufficient for modeling the recognition of opportunities for sustainable development. The model suggests that entrepreneurs are more likely to discover sustainable development opportunities the greater their knowledge of natural and communal environments become, the more they perceive that the natural and communal environment in which they live is threatened, and the greater their altruism toward others becomes. The authors propose that entrepreneurial knowledge plays a central role by moderating these effects.

V. Jean Ramsey &  John H. Williams, Small Business and Clean Air Regulations: Issues and Problems, 8 J.  Bus. & Entrepreneurship 53-69 (1996).

Ron Shaffer, Achieving Sustainable Economic Development in Communities, 26 J. Cmty. Dev. Soc’y, 145-154 (1995).

Fiona Tilley & William Young, Sustainability Entrepreneurs, 55 Greener Mgm’t Int’l 79 (2009).

Abstract (from authors): This paper presents a model of sustainability entrepreneurship that suggests sustainability entrepreneurs could potentially be the true wealth generators of the future. Entrepreneurship has been linked to wealth creation and economic growth and consequently been promoted and encouraged in modern society. In more recent times, with the increased awareness of environmental and social problems the theory of ecological modernisation has been presented as an explanation for how entrepreneurship can reconcile the twin goals of sustainable development and wealth accumulation. However, the limitations of ecological modernisation theory suggest this may not be the panacea some first thought, thus opening up the debate for an alternative model of entrepreneurship based on the principles of sustainability. This in turn is linked to a broader more radical definition of wealth that goes beyond a narrow financial scope to a more integrated approach that incorporates environmental and social forms of wealth alongside the traditional economic forms.

 Rosalinde Klein Woolthuis et al., Institutional Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Urban Development: Dutch Successes as Inspiration for Transformation, 50 J. Cleaner Production 91 (2013).

Abstract (adapted from authors): Sustainable urban development is a wicked problem. On the basis of three case studies, the authors conclude that institutional entrepreneurs play an important role in sustainable urban development. The question the authors address is how institutional entrepreneurs do this. They theorize and find six tactics that entrepreneurs employ to influence both formal and informal institutions to create a favorable institutional context for sustainable development by combining insights from both institutional theory and institutional economics. Through framing and theorizing institutional entrepreneurs create new visions on sustainable urban developments, whereas collaboration and lobbying are important for the realization of the projects. The study adds new insights into how negotiation (private governance contracts, property rights) and standardization (certification, standards) form a key to altering incentive schemes and to create a competitive advantage. Through the joint changes in both informal institutions and the formal institutions the entrepreneurs are able to change the institutional context in which projects are embedded, thereby increasing the feasibility of their projects.

Jeffrey G. York & S. Venkataraman, The Entrepreneur-Environment Nexus: Uncertainty, Innovation, and Allocation (Batten Institute, Research Paper No. 2010 Y2, 2010), available at

Abstract (adapted from authors): The authors build upon a recent stream of research that has proposed entrepreneurship as a solution to, rather than a cause of, environmental degradation. Their proposition is that under certain conditions entrepreneurs are likely to supplement, or surpass, the efforts of governments, NGOs and existing firms to achieve environmental sustainability. Entrepreneurs can contribute to solving environmental problems through helping extant institutions in achieving their goals and by creating new, more environmentally sustainable products, services and institutions. Their model illustrates how entrepreneurs 1) address environmental uncertainty, 2) provide innovation and 3) engage in resource allocation to address environmental degradation.

Online Resources

AEREAS (Association for Enactive Research, Education and Application of Sustainopreneurship) (blog).

Anders Abrahamsson, Notes from a Sustainopreneur: On Sustainability Entrepreneurship (blog).

Gwendolyn Cuizon, Impacts of Entrepreneurs on the Environment: Environment Sustainability, Leadership and Eco-Efficiency, Start a Green Business

Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, So You Want to Start a Farm,

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