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Green Entrepreneurship: Building a Green Economy? – Evidence from the UK

Social and Sustainable Enterprise: Changing the Nature of Business

ISBN: 978-1-78190-254-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-255-4

Publication date: 6 November 2012


Purpose – There has been a growing interest in the development of a ‘green’ or ‘low carbon’ economy as a means of reconciling economic development and the environment. Research on green entrepreneurs to date has been upon individual entrepreneurs, neglecting wider economic and social contexts within which they operate. By looking at these wider networks of support, we suggest that discourses of the lone entrepreneur innovating and changing business practices are misrepresentative.

Methodology/approach – Semi-structured interviews to investigate green entrepreneurship with green building companies and policy makers.

Findings – Combined with new demands from consumers for more environmentally friendly products and services, the changing shape of national and global economies is leading to new forms of entrepreneurship. We identify a number of tensions between policy intentions and businesses’ experiences on the ground.

Research limitations/implications – To date, research has only been undertaken in the UK – we recommend that future research takes other national contexts into account. Other economic sectors also represent promising areas for future research, potentially including social enterprises in the green economy. Sustainability transitions theories offer a potentially valuable means for understanding the role of businesses in engendering a green economy.

Practical implications – Implications for policy frameworks are outlined in the conclusions.

Originality/value of chapter – By incorporating policy and support organisations, and informal networks of support, the chapter challenges the dominant view of the lone entrepreneurial hero and points to the significance of networks for facilitating green entrepreneurship. This will be of importance for policy makers and funders of entrepreneurship programmes.



Gibbs, D. and O’Neill, K. (2012), "Green Entrepreneurship: Building a Green Economy? – Evidence from the UK", Underwood, S., Blundel, R., Lyon, F. and Schaefer, A. (Ed.) Social and Sustainable Enterprise: Changing the Nature of Business (Contemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research, Vol. 2), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 75-96.



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