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Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Is Entrepreneurial will Enough? A North–South Comparison

Abstract

Based on an analysis of 44 cases in Canada, Tunisia, and Cameroon, this research attempts to determine the fundaments of sustainable entrepreneurship (SE) in an international perspective and to shed the light on the potential impact of economic, institutional, and cultural dimensions upon diverse levels of sustainability in small- and medium-size firms (SMEs). Neo-institutional and entrepreneurship theories were combined in an integrative conceptual model to fully embrace the meanings and practices of SE and to question the “culture free” argument of some prescriptions as well as some international programs. The analysis of the rationale behind entrepreneurs committed to sustainability in the three countries compared to less engaged firms shows that entrepreneurs’ individual values are crucial in all cases. Socio-cultural specificities and institutional realities can, however, be more or less inductive to the adoption of sustainable practices in SMEs. This study also demonstrates that external stimuli are needed in Tunisia and Cameroon to reach the same environmental involvement as found in Canada. Moreover, support programs to assist SMEs with the adoption of sustainable practices and communication about the issue have to be tailored to the entrepreneur’s motives, the firms’ levels of openness to sustainability, the socio-cultural practices already embedded, and the countries’ priorities. Implications for policy, management, and research are also discussed.

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Spence, M., Ben Boubaker Gherib, J. & Ondoua Biwolé, V. Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Is Entrepreneurial will Enough? A North–South Comparison. J Bus Ethics 99, 335–367 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-010-0656-1

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Keywords

  • entrepreneurship
  • SMEs
  • sustainable entrepreneurship
  • sustainability