Exploring Ecopreneurship
: An examination of business practices in pursuit of sustainability goals on a firm and supply chain level

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

The IPCC’s renewed warnings underline the need for systemic change to the way we conduct business to address climate change. Academics have claimed that entrepreneurship can make a contribution to resolving environmental issues and thus the concept of ecopreneurship was developed. While the literature makes propositions about the ecopreneurs’ impact on sustainable development, little is known about how ecopreneurs deliver their sustainability goals. This doctoral dissertation seeks to address that gap. Since food concerns everyone and its production accounts for a third of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission, it was chosen as the study’s empirical context. The research’s exploratory nature was addressed by a multi-case study approach using purposeful sampling. Twelve cases within an alternative food network were selected and investigated through semi-structured interviews and document analyses. First, a firm level examination of intra-firm business practices identified ecopreneurial practices contributing to the firm’s economic, ecologic and social performance and how sustainability trade-offs are managed. The research finds ecopreneurs prioritise their contribution to sustainable development over profit-maximisation. It further finds a firm’s economic performance has a mediating effect on its social and ecologic performance. A firm’s engagement in one sustainability dimension affects its economic performance, which subsequently affects the firm’s ability to engage in the other dimension. Second, through a supply chain level examination, the research uncovers how value-centred supply networks are created and how these enable ecopreneurs to pursue their mission under economic viability constraints. Economic selection criteria are applied to the ecopreneurs’ distribution decisions, while sourcing decisions are primarily value-led within economic viability constraints. Accordingly, economic sustainability appears to flow upstream in the supply chain, while social and ecologic sustainability flow downstream. This dissertation contributes to the fields of entrepreneurship and supply chain management within a sustainability context and adds to our understanding of hybrid ventures and alternative food networks.
Date of Award1 Oct 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorXiaojun Wang (Supervisor) & Mary Phillips (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Ecopreneurship
  • sustainability
  • Sustainable development
  • Supply chain management
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Innovation

Cite this

Exploring Ecopreneurship: An examination of business practices in pursuit of sustainability goals on a firm and supply chain level
Schneider, N. R. (Author). 1 Oct 2019

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)