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Towards sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems: examining the effect of contextual factors on sustainable entrepreneurial activities in the sharing economy

Abstract

This paper seeks to expand our understanding of sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems by investigating the interrelation between contextual factors and sustainable entrepreneurial activities of sharing ventures. While the sharing economy is considered as a potential pathway to a more sustainable society,; ambiguous activities of some sharing ventures call the credibility of sharing as a sustainable concept into question. In order to shed light on the underlying cause of the ambiguity, we conducted 37 in-depth interviews with founders and senior managers of sharing ventures. Our comparative analysis identifies two distinct sets of contextual factors, which influence their sustainable activities. The first set of contextual factors enhances sustainable activities by enforcing the adaptation of behavioral rules and by enabling the development of organizational capabilities. The second set of contextual factors restricts sustainable activities by impeding market penetration and by suppressing growth. We contribute to theorizing about sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems by delineating the conjoint effect of contextual factors on sustainable activities. Furthermore, our results add insights into the controversial academic debate about the sustainability dimension in the sharing economy.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to acknowledge the Special Issue Editors and reviewers for their constructive feedback which has shaped this paper. We also appreciate the willingness of all respondents for providing their valuable insights in this study. Finally, we thank the conference reviewers at the G-Forum in Wuppertal and iShare Symposium in Mannheim for their insightful feedback on the earlier versions of this study.

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Correspondence to Susanne Pankov.

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Pankov, S., Velamuri, V.K. & Schneckenberg, D. Towards sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems: examining the effect of contextual factors on sustainable entrepreneurial activities in the sharing economy. Small Bus Econ 56, 1073–1095 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-019-00255-5

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Keywords

  • Sustainable entrepreneurship
  • Sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • Entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • Contextual factors
  • Sharing economy

JEL classification

  • L26
  • M13
  • O44
  • Q01