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Alternative Entrepreneurship: Tracing the Creative Destruction of Entrepreneurship

Jessica Lindbergh (Stockholm University, Sweden)
Karin Berglund (Stockholm University, Sweden)
Birgitta Schwartz (Stockholm University, Sweden)


Entrepreneurship is recognized by many as a solution to environmental and social challenges of today’s society. However, it has also been criticized since it may maintain the capitalistic demands of growth and efficiency in an unsustainable way. In this chapter, we challenge the current conception of entrepreneurship that aims for societal change by tracing what, how, where, and with whom such entrepreneurship is performed. Furthermore, we take inspiration from the idea of diverse economy by Gibson-Graham and introduce the concept of alternative entrepreneurship to explore how it takes shape, changes its contours, and both challenges and propels contemporary capitalism. In this chapter, we present three ethnographic cases of the unfolding of diverse entrepreneurial activities: (1) the case of Oria, who contributes to social justice through fair trade; (2) the case of artisan food producers who contribute to biological diversity and a rural livelihood; and (3) the case of the DiE project/NEEM NGO, which contributes to social inclusion through entrepreneurial empowerment and the development of a microcredit program. We find that the alternative entrepreneurs are not constrained by organizational forms or by a limited number of economic and non-economic activities that target societal challenges. The alternative entrepreneurs move between different organizational forms such as non-profit and for profit, as well as, undertaking business and voluntary practices to achieve societal change. Finally, we conclude that the ethnographic tracing of alternative entrepreneurship allows previously unsighted activities to become more visible and brings attention to possibilities of creatively destroying overly narrow conceptions of entrepreneurship.



Lindbergh, J., Berglund, K. and Schwartz, B. (2022), "Alternative Entrepreneurship: Tracing the Creative Destruction of Entrepreneurship", Mars, M.M. and Schau, H.J. (Ed.) How Alternative is Alternative? The Role of Entrepreneurial Development, Form, and Function in the Emergence of Alternative Marketscapes (Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Economic Growth, Vol. 29), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 29-55.



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Copyright © 2022 Jessica Lindbergh, Karin Berglund and Birgitta Schwartz