Unpacking opportunity recognition for sustainable entrepreneurship

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Sustainable entrepreneurs can find solutions to the largest challenges that humanity faces by starting a new company. However, to be able to do that, they first need to recognize a business opportunity. Therefore, I analyse the following question: where, how, and why do entrepreneurs recognize business opportunities for a sustainable business?

To recognize a business opportunity is crucial for entrepreneurs, because without a business opportunity, there is no entrepreneurship. Opportunity recognition is essentially a match of (1) resources that the entrepreneur has access to, and (2) a need, interest or want in the market. The entrepreneur combines these into an idea and a plan for a new venture. Sustainable entrepreneurs need to first recognize a sustainability problem and find a market solution to this problem, before they can recognize a sustainable opportunity.

My research shows that: (1) sustainable entrepreneurs recognize opportunities at places in the Netherlands where there already is a concentration of entrepreneurs in the same sector, (2) identity, values and problem recognition conjointly explain why entrepreneurs recognize sustainable opportunities, (3) entrepreneurs recognize sustainable opportunities through identity processes and the translation of complex into specific problems, and (4) they create opportunities by fostering a sustainable consumer culture in market niches.

These findings help to unpack the concept of sustainable opportunity recognition. The findings can also aid (aspiring) entrepreneurs to recognize new sustainable opportunities, help teachers to learn students to recognize new opportunities and to help policy makers to stimulate sustainable entrepreneurship based on regional characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • de Jong, Gjalt, Supervisor
  • Folmer, Emma, Co-supervisor
  • Ünal, Berfu, Co-supervisor
Award date18-Mar-2021
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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