Thinking Apart and Together: the role of cognition in managing multiple goals in sustainable enterprises

Hendrik Thelken


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Sustainable entrepreneurs try to solve a sustainability problem with their company. They therefore try to achieve social, environmental and economic goals at the same time. It can be the case that these three goals are not congruent and lead to tensions. For example striving for social goals might reduce profit and vice versa. Such tensions can also lead to personal distress such as frustration or dissonance and can also prevent individuals from founding a sustainable enterprise in the first place. This thesis therefore looked at how sustainable entrepreneurs, as founders of their companies, deal with such tensions, with a focus on the cognitive strategies they use to do so. We find that especially future orientation and personal values (describing what we care about in life) determine whether individuals find it desirable and feasible to start a sustainable enterprise and through that also strengthen the intention to do so. Once they have founded their companies, sustainable entrepreneur seem to be able to draw on a strong confidence that they will be able to reach their sustainability goals. This strong confidence is partly due to the usage of multiple future oriented strategies such as roadmapping and setting milestones. This seems to help them to keep track of their various goals and find a balance between them.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • de Jong, Gjalt, Supervisor
  • √únal, Berfu, Co-supervisor
Datum van toekenning26-aug-2021
Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
StatusPublished - 2021

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