The central suggestion of this paper is that innovation in the concept of entrepreneurship is overdue and that the concept of entrepreneurship needs to be extended to accommodate its often neglected collective or pluralistic dimension, a concept termed “associative entrepreneurship”. It has also been argued that there may be a natural link between sustainability and the co‐operative form. In this paper these themes are drawn together by considering the entrepreneurial potential expressed by the recent creation of mutual businesses in a range of renewable energy sectors in Wales. It is suggested that, at least in the renewable energy sector and perhaps in other sectors too, innovation in the direction of sustainability may require a development of the concept of entrepreneurship in the direction of mutualism.
The paper takes the form of a theoretical discussion focusing around seven preliminary case studies.
As yet only a cluster of community‐based enterprises have been discovered in the renewable energy sector in Wales. The authors propose to study them in detail in the next stage of the research.
This is a developmental paper and many of its suggestions require rigorous testing. The authors would suggest that detailed case studies of the seven examples of associative enterprise in the renewable energy field outlined here, and others which may emerge during the research, would greatly enhance our understanding of what drives entrepreneurs in this field. Further research might also compare these examples with others organised according to more traditional business models.
In view of the urgent need to move towards a low‐carbon economy and the expansion of the renewable energy sector this would require, understanding of the motivations of entrepreneurs in this sector is of great value.
Innovation in the renewable energy sector may be being held back by the limitations of the concept of entrepreneurship.
Cato, M.S., Arthur, L., Keenoy, T. and Smith, R. (2008), "Entrepreneurial energy: Associative entrepreneurship in the renewable energy sector in Wales", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 14 No. 5, pp. 313-329. https://doi.org/10.1108/13552550810897678
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