Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Sustainability

The concept of sustainopreneurship has been developed as emerging from generic entrepreneurship idea history, through preceding concepts eco-preneurship and social entrepreneurship, via sustainability entrepreneurship to sustainopreneurship. The need to develop a concept was identified through applied practice, action that from the beginning was lacking an explanatory concept to fully grasp the nature, aim and process of the activities initiated by the founder of iÆREAS. The full story is accessed through the Master Thesis in Business Administration (see Publishing).

The material here is also posted at http://www.sustainopreneurship.info.

Sustainopreneurship Defined

The definition developed and tested is as follows;

Imaginary Oxford English Dictionary, 2009 ed.

Sustainopreneurship, n.

1. Deployment of sustainability innovations: Entrepreneurship and innovation for sustainability.
2. Short for sustainability intra-/entrepreneurship.
3. To focus on one or more (world/social/sustainability-related) problem(s), find/identify and/or invent a solution to the problem(s) and bring the innovation to the market by creating an efficient organization. With the (new alt. deep transformation of an old) mission/cause-oriented sustainability business adding ecological/economical/social values and gains, with a bias towards the intangible - through dematerialization/resocialization. The value added at the same time preserving, restoring and/or ultimately enhancing the underlying utilized capital stock, in order to maintain the capacity to fulfil the needs of present and coming generations of stakeholders.

Highligthing Main Dimensions

The definition of sustainopreneurship, need to be highlighted with three distinguishing dimensions; all three are simultaneously present in the interaction it reflects;

1. Sustainopreneurship consciously sets out to find and/or create innovations to solve sustainability-related problems.

The conscious mission that guides the action is to deliberately find practical and innovative solutions to problems related to the sustainability agenda. This is the main key to distinguish this category of entrepreneurial activity and behaviour labelled sustainopreneurship from generic entrepreneurial activity. Typical areas from the Sustainability Agenda (ref. e. g. UN's Agenda 21, The Millennium Declaration and Plan of Implementation from World Summit on Sustainable Development) are;

• Poverty
• Water and Sanitation
• Health
• Education/illiteracy
• Sustainable production- and consumption patterns
• Climate change and energy systems
• Chemicals
• Urbanisation
• Ecosystems, biological diversity and land use
• Utilisation of sea resources
• Food and agriculture
• Trade Justice
• Social stability, democracy and good governance
• Peace and Security

2. Sustainopreneurship means to get solutions to the market through creative organizing.

The line-up above sets demands to acquire and maintain a fundamental attitude when this list of sustainability-related problems is compiled. It is of core importance to take the agenda as entrepreneurial challenges - to view problems as possibilities, obstacles as opportunities, and resistance as a resource, whatever nature of the resistance. If the solution is generated by creativity, equally important is to take it to the market in a creative and innovative way. Thinking and doing outside the box! In this dimension, there is nothing that really differs from the generic entrepreneurial description, but this comes natural since sustainopreneurship is a conceptual extension and development from the social phenomenon named entrepreneurship, and thus inherits one of its perceived key dimensions, 'entrepreneurship as creative organizing'.

3.Sustainopreneurship in process adds sustainability value with respect for life support systems.

The awareness that the (economic) market is an embedded sub-system in the "socio-sphere" that in turn is a part of the 'bio-sphere', is made explicit. This awareness naturally and self-evident makes the sustainopreneurial team to maximize harmony with life support systems in the process: acting according to the epitome of the generic definition on "sustainable development" in the business venturing, where sustainable development was defined by WCED UN, World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) "Our Common Future", fulfilling needs of the present generations with respect to the needs of present and future stakeholders.

Distinction: Sustainability vs Sustainable Entrepreneurship

One common unclarity is that there is no distinction made in between sustainability vs sustainable entrepreneurship. From this point of view sustainability entrepreneurship as in the concept sustainopreneurship; is the use of entrepreneurial activity in a determined action orientation towards solving a sustainability-related problem with business organising as a means to solve the problem(s) - 'business with a cause': To turn business activity from a part of the problem to a part of the solution.

Sustainable entrepreneurship then is viewed as just a generic entrepreneurial process that takes in consideration the boundaries set by sustainability through-out the entrepreneurial process, the how aspect, and do not address where to and why: The destination, the purpose, the aim of the venture. The strategic intent and the business idea in itself are not related to sustainability per se, sustainability is just an "attachment" to the entrepreneurial process when we talk about sustainable entrepreneurship. The second and third dimensions mentioned above are represented, but not the first.

Sustainability entrepreneurship, in contrast, takes as its root of existence and strategic aim to solve a sustainability-related problem, using creative business organizing as a means to do so. This means that all three dimensions are simultaneously present. In summary: To bring a sustainability innovation to the market through creative organizing with respect for life-supporting systems in the process - entrepreneurship and innovation for sustainability.

Background - Development

The background story
of the conceptual development is told over at http://www.sustainopreneurship.info by Anders Abrahamsson, the iÆREAS Founder;

"I stumbled upon the term in 2003, immediately embraced its anticipated meaning, but following a dissatisfaction of its suggested meaning in the sources I found, I wrote a first draft of a definition that was first presented online in 2004 (in conjunction to starting the related blog), then developed further and presented in an article at a conference in the spring 2005, that later turned into a chapter in a book that was published in September 2006, an anthology and peer-reviewed conference proceeding with 36 different authors, a book named "Science for Sustainable Development - starting points and and critical reflections".Later on, I followed up that article with the tentative definition in the conference article/book chapter and putting it to a test, and contrasted it towards tales and stories in an auto-ethnographic style to see if the conceptualization of the phenomenon could work as an explanatory term by the "experienced first-hand reality", in a research approach called enactive research. And it passed the test. The result is fully and freely downloadble public-domain from the swedish academic digital archives; "Sustainopreneurship - Business with a Cause: Conceptualizing Entrepreneurship for Sustainability"Based on real-life experiences and a need to communicate this (inter)actionAs mentioned, the main source for this conceptualization is not primarily academic literature. The conceptual development is rather energized by an intention to find a vocabulary to describe the action where we did not have a name for what we did in a more "abstract" level (i. e. starting a company dealing with sustainability profile clothes directly imported from developing countries, launched greater in a future to come with financing secuted, branded Ignition®, and taking part of a future revenue to fund and develop sustainability innovations to speed up transition towards a sustainable world through and with business creation as a means). So in order to easier describe what we "did" and "doing", we fully embraced this concept, and I have developed it further after I found it by serendipity by the year 2003 (a call for papers notification to a conference mailed on a mailing list, described in detail how it went about in my Master Thesis as well). The company first spark, its "ignition" was in January 2000, shared in the self-ethnographic storytelling in the Thesis mentioned - a core to develop further and use to popularize and proliferate sustainopreneurship in idea, education/teaching/learning, applied interaction and inspiring future sustainopreneurial ventures!"