From individual sustainability orientations to collective sustainability innovation and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems

  • Lori DiVitoEmail author
  • Zita Ingen-Housz


Sustainability and economic growth—the integration and balance of social, environmental, and economic needs—is a salient concern for sustainable development and social well-being. By focusing on a sustainable innovation project, we explore how entrepreneurial ecosystems become sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems and investigate the interactions of entrepreneurial actors. We conducted an inductive, single-case study of a specific collaborative innovation project in the denim industry specialized in a specific geographic location. From our data, we show that the presence of four conditional aspects foster sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems. These include sustainability orientation of actors, recognition of sustainable opportunities and resource mobilization, collaborative innovation of sustainability opportunities, and markets for sustainable products. We make two observations that contribute to the literature. First, we see that in a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem, entrepreneurial experimentation is a highly interdependent and interactive process. Second, we see that recognition of sustainable opportunities is distributed among different actors in the ecosystem. Our findings also have implications for practitioners and policy-makers.


Entrepreneurial ecosystems Sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems Sustainable entrepreneurship Innovation systems Apparel 

JEL classification

L26 L67 



We express our gratitude to the Special Issue Editors and reviewers for their insightful and constructive suggestions that led to substantial improvements of this paper. We also extend our gratitude to the entrepreneurs and firms that participated in this study and generously shared their time and experience with us.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Amsterdam School of International BusinessAmsterdam University of Applied SciencesAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Center for Applied Research on Economics and ManagementAmsterdam University of Applied SciencesAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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