Mission-driven entrepreneurship in ecosystems for sustainable systems change

Monique de Ritter

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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In this time of systems change entrepreneurs can contribute to finding solutions for challenges the world faces. Focusing on technology is not sufficient, when we do not address organizing principles to change the way of doing business and stimulating innovation. This PhD research has been carried out with the assumption that current and still dominant organizing principles based on hierarchies in business and society are inadequate or even counter-effective in achieving a more sustainable economy. Thereto, this dissertation introduces a five-layered conceptual model based on systems thinking that offers a guidance to identify and analyze the organizing principles needed for sustainable systems change. The main aim of this research was to obtain in-depth insights into how this conceptual model works in practice, with an emphasis on the meso-level (ecosystem) and how this level connects the micro-level (mission-driven entrepreneur) and macro-level (sustainable systems change). The research has found that the ecosystem indeed plays an important role in leveraging the initiatives of mission-driven entrepreneurs for sustainable systems change. New skills and knowledge are needed in order to effectively apply organizational principles, such as deep collaboration and networking, to working in ecosystems. This dissertation shows that mission-driven entrepreneurs are inspiring change agents in the system with their company as a vehicle for change. However, for more systemic change needed for a sustainable economy, it is necessary to work together in ecosystems. The idea here is that there will be a far-reaching collaboration between various organizations, both from the private and the public sector, both large companies and smaller enterprises. These organizations therewith transcend the boundaries of traditional industries and are instead organized around a specific issue or theme. However, collaboration in ecosystems does not happen by itself; specific knowledge and skills are needed, such as systems thinking, network approaches, and leading multiparty dialogues.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • de Jong, Gjalt, Supervisor
  • Roobeek, A.J.M., Supervisor, External person
Award date29-Aug-2019
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-1895-7
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-1892-6
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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