Green entrepreneurship: definitions of related concepts.
This article aims to shed light on the area of green entrepreneurship and its related concepts (i.e., ecopreneurship, environmental entrepreneurship, enviropreneurship and sustainable entrepreneurship) as a topic which is gaining importance among researchers, and which recently even developed beyond its infancy stage. The following article will present a systematic literature review of scientific journals which attempts to organize, integrate, and evaluate previously published materials on the named topics, thereby providing a thorough basis for future research.

Keywords: Green Entrepreneurship; Ecopreneurship; Environmental Entrepreneurship; Enviropreneurship; Sustainable Entrepreneurship; Entrepreneur; Sustainable Development; Economy; Society; Environment

Article Type:
Entrepreneurship (Analysis)
Sustainable development (Analysis)
Environmental protection (Reports)
Melay, Ivan
Kraus, Sascha
Pub Date:
Name: International Journal of Strategic Management Publisher: International Academy of Business and Economics Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business, international Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 International Academy of Business and Economics ISSN: 1555-2411
Date: August, 2012 Source Volume: 12 Source Issue: 2
Computer Subject: Environmental issue
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number:
Full Text:

The first efforts to protect the human environment were undertaken in the early 1970s through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Stockholm declaration which addressed human activities to protect liveable conditions on our planet. This document, among others, states that:

"The protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue which affects the well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world; it is the urgent desire of the peoples of the whole world and the duty of all Governments." (UNEP 1972).

At the UN World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) conference, sustainable development was defined as "development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Although the topic had long been discussed on the international political scene, the academic importance increased with publications that covered the topic from an entrepreneurial point of view (Blue, 1990; Bennett, 1991; Berle, 1991).

Since then, many authors have devoted their work to topics of green entrepreneurship and its derived concepts, such as ecopreneurship, environmental entrepreneurship, enviropreneurship and sustainable entrepreneurship. These terms have been used interchangeably in academic research papers over the past two decades.

Despite the increased importance of the green entrepreneurship agenda in academia as well as world political discussions (e.g. the Kyoto 1997 or Copenhagen 2009 summits), authors of popular literature to this day remain concerned about ongoing environmental issues and the lack of action against them more than thirty years after the first discussions at the UN (Friedman, 2009). One frequently asked question is whether environmental protection can be achieved by incremental changes in industries, or if there is a need for strong entrepreneurial action. As is often the case, the answer is found between the two worlds (Russo and Lundquist, 2003). There is much room for improvement in fostering cooperation among ecopreneurial start-ups and incumbent firms, as described by Hockerts and Wustenhagen (2010) in their recent article about the role of incumbent firms and new entrants into sustainable entrepreneurship. Another important area to review is our educational system and its potential support of ecopreneurship. Kuckertz and Wagner (2010) discuss the importance of closing the gap that has apparently been torn open by business. Here, relevant knowledge needs to be provided to Masters students that would allow them to effectively operate their ecopreneurial ventures. At the same time, there is an expectation that governments and state regulators should provide a supportive environment for ecopreneurial action (Ndubisi and Nair, 2009; Meek et al., 2010; Schaper, 2010) in areas such as taxation, financial support, and the enforcement of stricter environmental norms and regulations.

Despite persisting problems and challenges that green entrepreneurs face on a daily basis, Friedman (2009) argued that these challenges also provide great opportunities for countries as well as individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit:

To begin with, the human race can no longer continue to power its growth with the fossil-fuel-based-system that we have employed since the industrial revolution. If we do, the earth's climate, forests, rivers, oceans, and ecosystems are going to be ravaged and poisoned beyond repair. We need a new Clean Energy System, that can drive our economies forward--sustainably--and bring more people out of poverty, without despoiling our planet... Some see it now. Others will see it soon. Eventually it will be obvious to all. (Friedman, 2009, p. 210).

The purpose of this article is to present a thorough literature review of the scientific journals that discuss these topics and to organize, integrate, and evaluate previously published material using the systematic of Tranfield et al. (2003). To achieve this, all theoretical as well as empirical articles and studies were taken into consideration. One important factor for including a study into the review was a set of keywords. The following keywords were used to identify relevant articles: green entrepreneurship, ecopreneurship, environmental entrepreneurship, enviropreneurship, and sustainable entrepreneurship. The article search was done on the EBSCO platform using Business Premiere and Green File sources for the time frame 1995-2011.


Researchers in the 1970s and 1980s were mostly concerned with the questions of sustainable development. The so-called "holy grail" at this time was the correlation between man's activity and changes in nature (climate change, growth of desert areas, etc.). According to a report published by the World Climate Research Programme (Houghton, 1984), the present atmospheric values of carbon dioxide will almost certainly double before the year 2100. With over a quarter century distance between now and then, no one questions man's influence on climate change, biodiversity loss, and deterioration of natural resources any longer. The question that is now being posed is how we can sustain the increased demand of energy that comes from developing countries (Friedman, 2009), while at the same time avoiding further deterioration of the human environment. While the triple bottom line that was introduced to the business world in the 1990s (Elkington, 1998) is widely used as a reporting standard, it has not achieved extensive environmental awareness because corporations prefer to report on corporate social responsibility instead. The severity of environmental changes, however, makes clear that the incremental changes put forth by corporations will not be enough to maintain critical levels of natural and social capital (Hockerts and Wustenhagen, 2010). From this comes a higher demand for entrepreneurial action that can bring about the Schumpeterian (1934) creative destruction in the areas of energy consumption as well as production.

During the search of scholarly articles for green entrepreneurship, articles from the EBSCO database for the period between 1995 to 2011 were reviewed for the key words green entrepreneurship, ecopreneurship, enviropreneurship, sustainable entrepreneurship, and ecological entrepreneurship. 54 scholarly articles pertaining to these were found, which are chronologically displayed in Table 1. In the article sample, there are 34 empirical studies available in various sectors and business types.

It was not until recently that scientific articles started to appear in larger numbers in academic journals. As the overview of the reviewed articles shows, more than 50% of them were written in the last three years. Had it not been for the special issue of Green Management International (Vol. Summer 2002, Issue Nr. 38, 2002) that was dedicated to the topic of ecopreneurship, we would not have found more than two articles per year discussing green entrepreneurship as recently as 2007. In spite of this, it has been more than twenty years since the seminal works related to green entrepreneurship (Berle, 1991) and ecopreneurship (Blue, 1990) were published. Significantly, these works contained topics related to entrepreneurship such as environmental protection, recycling, alternative energy source implementation, and responsible investments, to name only a few examples. In the first decade of the journals, we can observe that the articles were almost solely focused on "green-green entrepreneurs" (Isaak, 2010), i.e. people who decide to set up a "green business" from the very beginning of their ventures; and on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which for the purpose of this study are defined as companies with no more than 250 employees (European Commission, 2003). In the last few years we can, however, see a tendency for incumbent firms to implement sustainable practices as a reaction to new entrants into the market (Hockerts and Wustenhagen, 2010).

When evaluating the results of the review and their implication into practice, researchers need to strongly consider the origin of the articles, as over two-thirds of them come from only four countries (USA, UK, Canada, and Germany). Additionally, there are virtually no examples that originate from researchers in the third world, with the exception of two articles from India (Pastakia, 1998; 2002) and one Canadian-Cameroonian-Tunisian collaboration (Spence et al., 2001).

The significance of the topic in the second half of the last decade is underlined by a relatively wide range of qualitative and quantitative research studies published in the special issue of an A-ranked scientific publication, Journal of Business Venturing (Vol. 25, Issue Nr. 5, 2010), which is devoted to sustainable development and entrepreneurship. This lends credibility to the notion that green entrepreneurship research is exiting its infancy stage.


Green entrepreneurship emerged in response to the environmental challenges that we are facing as a human race. In a broader sense, it could be well defined as pertaining to the process of creative destruction, which was described by Schumpeter (1934) in the first half of the 20th century. In his seminal work about ecopreneurship, Blue (1990) writes that it is a conscious choice of the entrepreneur who decides to implement environmental goals into his or her own business. This conscious decision is followed by obtaining the necessary skills and implementing the best case practices into daily operations. Berle (1991) adds an important point in his book The Green Entrepreneur: "In the final analysis, in environmental entrepreneuring, the big factor is the education of the consumer. After all, the consumer votes with his dollars at the cash register" (p. 140). This is a significant difference compared to the available definition of social entrepreneurs, where the profit orientation is not present (Dees, 2001). However, researchers in the field of green entrepreneurship often seek comparisons between sustainable entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs (Hall et al., 2010; Parrish and Tilley, 2010; Schaltegger, 2010), because both types are connected in their common goal to improve the environment in which they are present (Isaak, 2010). The term green entrepreneurship has three major variations which are commonly used in the scientific realm--ecopreneurship, environmental entrepreneurship (enviropreneurship), and sustainable entrepreneurship. Even though the terms are significantly related to each other, differences do in fact exist, which will be examined in the following four paragraphs.

3.1 Green entrepreneurship

The term green entrepreneurship stems from Berle's (1991) book The green entrepreneur: Business opportunities that can save the earth and make you money. As the title suggests, it's a rather practically oriented book that touches on topics such as recycling, nature preservation, renewable energy implementation, etc. In his book, Berle (1991) noted how "One man's garbage is another man's treasure". An interesting observation is that almost all the definitions related to green entrepreneurship are also related to the start-up phase of a company and the ability of the person or the company to align activities with environmental protection. Green entrepreneurs are embracing environmental values as a core component of their identity and seeing them as a competitive advantage of their company in the market place (Allen and Malin, 2008). Research studies also argue that the difference between ecologically-oriented start-ups and conventional start-ups lies in the environmental considerations of the green entrepreneurs themselves (Schick et al., 2002).

However, it is also recognised that green and ethical entrepreneurs [emphasis added] may well have mixed motivations; their motives may not be solely green but a combination of green, ethical and social motives instead. These are often difficult to separate (as, indeed, the concept of sustainability reflects) (Walley and Taylor, 2002).

3.2 Environmental entrepreneurship (Enviropreneurship)

Environmental entrepreneurship, often labelled also as enviropreneurship, is a term specifically used to identify entrepreneurial ventures which aim to put environmental protection at the core of their business activity. They are often family-driven businesses operating in a societal environment, and which are strongly oriented towards environmental protection (Meek et al., 2010). When comparing the definitions for environmental entrepreneurship with their counterparts from the field of green entrepreneurship research, a relatively low identification of whether the entrepreneurial activity is taking place within new ventures or incumbent firms was discovered. This finding is in line with the thesis of the research tandem Hockerts and Wustenhagen (2010), who propose that the industry transformation phase is characterized by the sustainable intentions of SMEs (in the study referred to as "Davids") being followed in the second phase by pioneering incumbents (in the study referred to as "Goliaths") mimicking some of these intentions, e.g. retailers bringing environmentally friendly products into the mainstream channels. On the contrary, York and Venkataraman (2010) argue that environmental entrepreneurship happening in start-ups or SMEs can potentially supplement regulations, corporate social responsibility, and activism in resolving environmental problems. The authors further explain: "Entrepreneurs can supplement the effectiveness of incumbent firms and institutions, but they can also create a new world through doing things existing firms and institutions do not" (York and Venkataraman, 2010, p. 449).

3.3 Ecopreneurship

When Blue (1990) applied the term Ecopreneurship for the first time in the literature, it described an individual who is aware of the environment and is able to bring about the best results within the given circumstances. He argued that this ability can be learned, and suggested precise steps that managers --ecopreneurs--need to pursue to bring about the desired change. It was only in 1998 that ecopreneurship became strongly connected to ecology and, within a few years, to sustainable development as well (Pastakia, 1998). Within the ecopreneurship definitions we can observe a strong focus on innovation (Pastakia, 2002; Schaltegger, 2002; Schick et al., 2002; Allen and Malin, 2008) which is connected to the ecopreneurial activities of SMEs, institutions, and the corporate sector (Walley and Taylor, 2002; Russo and Lundquist, 2003; Gibbs, 2009). "Ecopreneurship can thus be roughly defined as 'entrepreneurship through an environmental lens'" (Schaltegger, 2002, p. 47).

3.4 Sustainable entrepreneurship

In this article, sustainable development is referred to as an ability to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987). Through this lens we can see that "Sustainable entrepreneurship is thus not only associated with the promise of more traditional concepts of entrepreneurship, but bears additional potential both for society and the environment" (Kuckertz and Wagner, 2010, p. 525).

Topics related to sustainable development have been present in conference discussions now for almost four decades. One of the outcomes from the UN Conference on Human Environment (1972, [section] 6) states:

The broad spectrum of the definitions of sustainable entrepreneurship indicates a unique balance between a focus on societal, environmental, and economic issues. These three elements were also included in the corporate reporting standards at the end of the last century known as the "triple-bottom-line" (Elkington, 1998). Some researchers show that sustainable entrepreneurial firms not only see sustainability as a part of their core business activities, but as the aim for mass-market transformation beyond the eco-niche as well (Hockerts and Wustenhagen, 2010). "Entrepreneurship for sustainable development holds a bold promise, namely, that because entrepreneurial opportunities exist which are caused by market imperfections, individuals will pursue these in the expectation of entrepreneurial [returns]" (Kuckertz and Wagner, 2010, p. 527).


After several decades of environmental research, it's now rare to find a scientist who disagrees with the notion that humans are severely degrading many of the Earth's ecosystems. In addition, even though debate continues on just how much human activities affect the environment (for instance discussions on the Kyoto protocol), the business sector is often viewed as one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation (Cohen and Winn, 2007).

This literature review aimed to structure the complex view of academic articles written about the topic of green entrepreneurship. It has focused not just on environmental issues, but on social and economic foundations as well. Green entrepreneurs are often pictured as the catalysts which can bring about the desired change in society, and who in addition can change the behaviour of the existing firms in the market place to make them more responsible (Parrish and Foxon, 2009; Hockerts and Wustenhagen, 2010; Schaper, 2010). It is therefore clear that researchers and educators need to devote more attention to this topic that emerged two decades ago, especially as they work should move beyond the anecdotal and small-scale case study evidence of the current research (Gibbs, 2009). Universities play a unique role in this process. In particular, they need to implement green syllabi into entrepreneurship education and focus especially on how to provide students with business experience that can serve as a prerequisite and springboard for the successful realisation of their entrepreneurial ideas (Isaak, 2010; Kuckertz and Wagner, 2010).

An interesting area of research would be to review each of the different elements of the green entrepreneurship, i.e. green sourcing, green production, and green marketing, and the ways these elements influence one another. To date, there are only a few research studies in this area (Kirkwood and Walton, 2010; Paulraj, 2011) which specifically provide perspectives from North America and Australia. A European take on this topic would certainly be of value.

Researchers need to specifically ask under what conditions we can expect entrepreneurs to pursue sustainable values while maintaining a balance of economic growth that still manages to advance environmental and social objectives (Hall et al., 2010). We can expect that these conditions will differ based on the social norms present in the environment where the venture is based (Meek et al., 2010). This means that there is a need for more research studies done outside of Western societies, which to date remain rare. In addition, it would be valuable to review how entrepreneurs recognise opportunities in the field of sustainable entrepreneurship within different contexts, e.g. country of origin, demography, or prior work experience (Cohen and Winn, 2007).

From the perspective of entrepreneurships and theory of business cycles (Schumpeter, 1934), it would be interesting to review ventures from Berle's (1991) book The Green Entrepreneur and see where they are today, twenty years after publication (Holt, 2011).


Allen, J.C. and Malin, S., "Green Entrepreneurship: A Method for Managing Natural Resources?", Society and Natural Resources, Volume 21, Number 9, Pages 828-844, 2008

Bennett, S.J., Ecopreneuring: The complete guide to small business opportunities from the environmental revolution, Wiley, New York, 1991

Berle, G., The green entrepreneur: Business opportunities that can save the earth and make you money, Liberty Hall Press, Blue Ridge, 1991

Blue, R.J., Ecopreneuring: Managing for results, Scott Foresman, Glenview/London, 1990

Braun, P., "Going green: women entrepreneurs and the environment", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Volume 2, Number 3, Pages 245-259, 2010

Choi, D.I. and Gray, E.R., "The venture development processes of "sustainable" entrepreneurs", Management Research News, Volume 31, Number 8, Pages 558-569, 2008

Cohen, B. and Winn, M.I., "Market imperfections, opportunity and sustainable entrepreneurship", Journal of Business Venturing, Volume 22, Number 1, Pages 29-49, 2007

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Hartmann, C.L. and Stafford, E.R., "Crafting "Enviropreneurial" Value Vhain Strategies Through Green Alliances", Business Horizons, Volume 41, Number 2, Pages 62-72, 1998

Hendrickson, L.U. and Tuttle, D.B., "Dynamic management of the environmental enterprise: a qualitative analysis", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Volume 10, Number 4, 363-382, 1997

Hockerts, K. and Wustenhagen, R., "Greening Goliaths versus emerging Davids--Theorizing about the role of incumbents and new entrants in sustainable entrepreneurship", Journal of Business Venturing, Volume 25, Number 5, Pages 481-492, 2010

Holt, D., "Where are they now? tracking the longitudinal evolution of environmental businesses from the 1990s", Business Strategy and the Environment, Volume 20, Number 4, Pages 238-250, 2011

Houghton, J.T., The global climate, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1984

Isaak, R., Green logic: Ecopreneurship, theory, and ethics, Kumarian Press, West Hartford, 1998

Isaak, R., The making of the Ecopreneur. In: M. Schaper (eds.), Making ecopreneurs. Developing sustainable entrepreneurship, Gower, Farnham, Pages 43-57, 2010

Keijzers, G., "The transition to the sustainable enterprise", Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 10, Number 4, Pages 349-359, 2002

Kirkwood, J. and Walton, S., "How ecopreneurs' green values affect their international engagement in supply chain management", Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Volume 8, Number 2, Pages 200-217, 2010

Kuckertz, A. and Wagner, M., "The influence of sustainability orientation on entrepreneurial intentions--Investigating the role of business experience", Journal of Business Venturing, Volume 25, Number 5, Pages 524-539, 2010

Linnanen, L., "An Insider's Experiences with Environmental Entrepreneurship", Green Management International, Number 38, Pages 71-80, 2002

Lober, D.J., "Pollution prevention as corporate entrepreneurship", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Volume 11, Number 1, Pages 26-37, 1998

Lordkipanidze, M., Brezet, H. and Backman, M., "The entrepreneurship factor in sustainable tourism development", Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 13, Number 8, Pages 787-798, 2005

Meek, W.R., Pacheco, D.F. and York, J.G., "The impact of social norms on entrepreneurial action: Evidence from the environmental entrepreneurship context", Journal of Business Venturing, Volume 25, Number 5, Pages 493-509, 2010

Morrish, S.C., Miles, M.P. and Polonsky, M.J., "An exploratory study of sustainability as a stimulus for corporate entrepreneurship", Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, Volume 18, Number 3, Pages 162-171, 2011

Ndubisi, N.O. and Nair, S.R., "Green entrepreneurship (GE) and green value added (GVA): A conceptual framework", International Journal of Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Volume 13, Number 1, Pages 21-24, 2009

Nikolaou, E.I., Ierapetritis, D. and Tsagarakis, K.P., "An evaluation of the prospects of green entrepreneurship development using a SWOT analysis", International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, Volume 18, Number 1, Pages 1-16, 2011

Pacheco, D.F., Dean, T.J. and Payne, D.S., "Escaping the green prison: Entrepreneurship and the creation of opportunities for sustainable development", Journal of Business Venturing, Volume 25, Number 5, Pages 464-480, 2010

Parrish, B.D. and Foxon, T.J., "Sustainability Entrepreneurship and Equitable Transitions to a Low-Carbon Economy", Green Management International, Number 55, Pages 47-62, 2009

Parrish, B.D. and Tilley, F., Sustainability Entrepreneurship: Charting a Field in Emergence. In: M. Schaper (eds.), Making ecopreneurs. Developing sustainable entrepreneurship, Gower, Farnham, Pages 21-41, 2010

Partzsch, L. and Ziegler, R., "Social entrepreneurs as change agents: a case study on power and authority in the water sector", International Environmental Agreements, Volume 11, Number 1, Pages 62-83, 2011

Pastakia, A., "Grassroots ecopreneurs: change agents for a sustainable society", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Volume 11, Number 2, Pages 157-173, 1998

Pastakia, A., "Assessing Ecopreneurship in the Context of a Developing Country: The Case of India.", Green Management International, Number 38, Pages 93-108, 2002

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Walley, E.E. and Taylor, D.W., "Opportunists, Champions, Mavericks?: A Typology of Green Entrepreneurs", Green Management International, Number 38, Pages 31-43, 2002

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Ivan Melay, University of Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein

Sascha Kraus, University of Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein


Ivan Melay is a candidate for Master of Science degree in the Institute of Entrepreneurship at the University of Liechtenstein. Before joining the master programme, he was operational manager at the leading media research institute in the field of Applied Agenda Setting research, Media Tenor in Switzerland. He holds Bachelor degree from the Faculty of Telecommunications of the Zilina University in Slovakia. His research field is sustainable development in the area of entrepreneurship.

Dr. Sascha Kraus is Associate Professor for Entrepreneurship at the University of Liechtenstein and Extraordinary Professor for Entrepreneurship at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Before his current positions, Prof. Kraus was Evald and Hilda Nissi Foundation International Fellow at the University of Vaasa, Finland and Substitute Professor at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Austria.
A point has been reached in history when we must shape our actions
   throughout the world with a more prudent care for their
   environmental consequences. Through ignorance or indifference we
   can do massive and irreversible harm to the earthly environment on
   which our life and well being depend. Conversely, through fuller
   knowledge and wiser action, we can achieve for ourselves and our
   posterity a better life in an environment more in keeping with
   human needs and hopes.

Table 1: Literature review

Authors           Relation   Type of        Part.   Country

Hendrickson and   +          Qualitative            USA
Tuttle (1997)

Isaak (1997)      +          Theoretical    -       USA

Hartmann and      +          Theoretical    -       USA
Stafford (1998)

Pastakia (1998)   +          Qualitative    6       India

Stafford et al.   +          Case study     8       USA/
(2000)                                              Australia

Isaak (2002)      +          Theoretical    -       USA

Keijzers (2002)   +          Theoretical    -       Netherlands

Linnanen (2002)   +          Theoretical            Finland

Pastakia (2002)   +          Theoretical    -       India

Schaltegger       +          Case study     7       Germany

Schaper (2002)    +          Theoretical    -       Australia

Schick et al.     +          Qualitative    10      Germany

Volery (2002)     +          Case study     1       Switzerland

Walley and        +          Lit. review            UK
Taylor (2002)

Lordkipanidze     +          Case study     1       Sweden
et al. (2005)

Wheeler et al.    +          Qualitative    50      Canada/
(2005)                                              USA

Cramer et al.     0          Qualitative    18      Netherlands

Zampetakis et     +          Quantitative   -       Greece
al. (2005)

Cohen and Winn    +          Theoretical    -       Canada

Dean and          +          Lit. review    -       USA
McMullen (2007)

Dixon and         +          Case study     1       UK
Clifford (2007)

Gliedt and        +          Qualitative    12      Canada
Parker (2007)

Katsikis and      +          Case study     1       Greece
Kyrgidou (2007)

Masurel (2007)    +          Quantitative   57      Netherlands

Allen and Malin   +          Case study     10      USA

Choi and Gray     +          Qualitative    21      USA

Cohen et al.      +          Theoretical    -       Canada/
(2008)                                              USA

Gibbs (2009)      +          Theoretical    -       UK

Ndubisi and       +          Theoretical            Malaysia
Nair (2009)

Parrish and       +          Case study             UK
Foxon (2009)

Wagner and        +          Quantitative   438     Germany
Kuckertz (2009)

Azevedo and       0          Case study     1       Spain
Gitahy (2010)

Braun (2010)      +          Mixed          400     Australia

De Palma and      +/-        Quantitative   17      Sweden/
Dobes (2010)                                        Denmark

Hall et al.       +          Lit. review    -       Canada/
(2010)                                              USA

Hockerts and      +          Lit. review    -       Denmark/
Wustenhagen                                         Switzerland

Kirkwood and      +          Case study     14      New Zealand
Walton (2010a)

Kuckertz and      +          Quantitative   712     Germany
Wagner (2010)

McGehee et al.    0          Quantitative   307     USA

Meek et al.       +          Quantitative   N/A     USA

Pacheco et al.    +          Qualitative    13      USA

Parrish (2010)    +          Qualitative    32      UK

Ring et al.       0          Theoretical    -       USA

Rodgers (2010)    +          Case study     3       UK

Holt (2011)       +          Quantitative   94      UK

Kelley (2011)     0          Theoretical    -       USA

Morrish et al.    +/-        Qualitative    50      New Zealand

Nikolaou et al.   +          Quantitative   40      Greece

Partzsch and      +          Case study     1       Germany
Ziegler (2011)

Paulraj (2011)    +          Quantitative   145     USA

Schaltegger and   +          Theoretical    -       Germany
Wagner (2011)

Shepherd and      +          Lit. review    -       USA/
Patzelt (2011)                                      Germany

Spence et al.     +          Qualitative    44      Canada/
(2011)                                              Tunisia/

Authors           Sector           Industry

Hendrickson and   SME              Cross-
Tuttle (1997)                      industry

Isaak (1997)      N/A              N/A

Hartmann and      N/A              N/A
Stafford (1998)

Pastakia (1998)   SME +            Agriculture

Stafford et al.   NGO              Cross-
(2000)                             industry

Isaak (2002)      N/A              N/A

Keijzers (2002)   N/A              N/A

Linnanen (2002)   N/A              N/A

Pastakia (2002)   N/A              N/A

Schaltegger       Corporate        Cross-
(2002)                             industry

Schaper (2002)    N/A              N/A

Schick et al.     Start-up         Cross-
(2002)                             industry

Volery (2002)     SME              Environmental

Walley and        N/A              N/A
Taylor (2002)

Lordkipanidze     SME              Tourism
et al. (2005)

Wheeler et al.    SME              Cross-
(2005)                             industry

Cramer et al.     Corporate        Cross-
(2006)                             industry

Zampetakis et     Education        University
al. (2005)                         students

Cohen and Winn    N/A              N/A

Dean and          N/A              N/A
McMullen (2007)

Dixon and         Not-for-profit   Recycling
Clifford (2007)

Gliedt and        Not-for-profit   Cross-
Parker (2007)                      industry

Katsikis and      SME              Trade
Kyrgidou (2007)                    association

Masurel (2007)    SME              Printing

Allen and Malin   SME              Cross-
(2008)                             industry

Choi and Gray     SME              Cross-
(2008)                             industry

Cohen et al.      N/A              N/A

Gibbs (2009)      N/A              N/A

Ndubisi and       N/A              N/A
Nair (2009)

Parrish and       SME              Energy
Foxon (2009)                       industry

Wagner and        Education        University
Kuckertz (2009)                    students and

Azevedo and       Corporate        Cross-
Gitahy (2010)                      industry

Braun (2010)      SME              Cross-

De Palma and      Corporate        Cross-
Dobes (2010)                       industry

Hall et al.       N/A              N/A

Hockerts and      N/A              N/A

Kirkwood and      SME              Cross-
Walton (2010a)                     industry

Kuckertz and      Education        University
Wagner (2010)                      students and

McGehee et al.    SME              Tourism

Meek et al.       Corporate        Solar energy
(2010)                             sector

Pacheco et al.    Corporate        Cross-
(2010)                             industry

Parrish (2010)    SME              Cross-

Ring et al.       N/A              N/A

Rodgers (2010)    SME              Cross-

Holt (2011)       SME              Cross-

Kelley (2011)     N/A              N/A

Morrish et al.    Corporate        Cross-
(2011)                             industry

Nikolaou et al.   Public           Development
(2011)                             agencies

Partzsch and      Social           Water
Ziegler (2011)    enterprises      industry

Paulraj (2011)    Corporate        Cross-

Schaltegger and   N/A              N/A
Wagner (2011)

Shepherd and      N/A              N/A
Patzelt (2011)

Spence et al.     SME              Cross-
(2011)                             industry

+ significant positive relationship; +/- mixed relationship;
0 no significant relationship

Table 2: Definitions of green entrepreneurship

Author          Definition

Berle (1991)    The green entrepreneur is an individual who shows
                other entrepreneurs how to:

                1. Develop manufacturing processes that are
                non-polluting and environmentally sound.

                2. Develop safe product recycling procedures that
                do not dump them into landfills, endangering
                people and property. 3. Educate employees and
                customers to be conscious of the environment in
                which their children will have to live.

Isaak (1998)    Green entrepreneurship is comprehended as a
                common-sense risk-reducing strategy of long-term
                savings and investment consistent with
                sustainability done through start-up of new
                small-to-medium-sized green-green companies
                (those that start up green from scratch), or
                those focused on explicitly
                environmentally-oriented, socially-committed

Volery (2002)   Green entrepreneurs manage or launch so-called
                green firms that attempt to modify existing
                business models by becoming cleaner and greener
                (i.e. by the adoption of techniques such as
                cleaner production, or design for the environment)
                and seek to gain a cost or marketing advantage
                over their competitors in the process. [...]
                Typically, green entrepreneurs are individuals
                who develop an innovation that either reduces
                resource waste and impacts or improves

Gliedt and      Green community entrepreneurship is defined as
Parker (2007)   the collective ability to mobilize resources,
                including social capital, to provide products or
                services that achieve environmental rather than
                profit maximizing goals.

Ndubisi and     Green entrepreneurship is the propensity to
Nair (2009)     innovate or create a green organization.

Braun (2010)    Green entrepreneurs are those that identify
                market opportunities and successfully implement
                innovative approaches to their product or service
                with a focus on social or ecological goals by
                means of profit-oriented business.

Nikolaou et     Green entrepreneurship can be defined as a new
al. (2011)      company start-up in the environmental services
                or production industry, focused on natural
                resources or natural conditions such as
                eco-tourism, recycling, wastewater treatment,
                and biodiversity.

Table 3: Definitions of environmental entrepreneurship

Author            Definition

Hendrickson and   Environmental entrepreneurship is regarded as
Tuttle (1997)     an entrepreneurial activity that benefits the

Hartmann and      Enviropreneurship is the formulation and
Stafford (1998)   implementation of ecologically beneficial
                  corporate policies and activities that
                  simultaneously protect market positions and
                  create revenue. An entrepreneurial orientation
                  is at the heart of it, integrating economic,
                  environmental, and social objectives.

Lober(1998)       Environmental entrepreneurship is the creation
                  of new products, services, or organizations to
                  meet environmental market opportunities.

Stafford et       Enviropreneurship is defined as
al. (2000)        entrepreneurial innovations and technological
Paulraj (2011)    approaches to address environmental and
                  sustainability problems that simultaneously
                  accommodate or capitalize on other societal
                  entities' needs and meet corporate economic

Dean and          Environmental entrepreneurship (entrepreneurs)
McMullen (2007)   mitigates market failures and promotes social
Meek et al.       welfare through discovering, evaluating, and
(2010)            exploiting environmentally relevant

Partzsch and      Environmental entrepreneurship describes a
Ziegler (2011)    rapidly growing, global actors' group that
                  tackles environmental and social problems via
                  entrepreneurial means.

Table 4: Definitions of ecopreneurship

Author             Definition

Pastakia (1998;    Individuals or institutions that attempt to
2002)              popularise eco-friendly ideas and innovations
                   through either market or non-market routes may
                   be referred to as ecopreneurs.

Isaak (2010)       Ecopreneurs are defined as individuals who create
                   green-green businesses in order to radically
                   transform the economic sector in which they
                   operate. Similarly, ecopreneurship is seen as an
                   existential form of business behaviour committed
                   to sustainability.

Linnanen (2002)    Ecopreneurs can be classified according to two
                   criteria. First, their desire to change the
                   world and to improve the quality of the
                   environment and life, and second, their desire
                   to make money and grow as a business venture.

Schaltegger        Ecopreneurship can be described as an innovative,
(2002)             market-oriented and personality-driven form of
                   value creation through environmental innovations
                   and products exceeding the start-up phase of a
                   company. Ecopreneurship thus distinguishes itself
                   from other forms of corporate environmental
                   development by the venture's clear commitment to
                   environmental progress and its strong desire for
                   business growth.

Walley and         Ecopreneurs are individuals who found or set up
Taylor (2002)      green-green businesses who, along with an
                   environmental orientation, have economic (i.e.
                   financial) profit-maximising or -optimising

Dixon and          Ecopreneur is defined as an individual who
Clifford (2007)    balances triple drivers within the venture:
                   environmental, social and economic.

Allen and          Ecopreneurs act as agents for societal change,
Malin (2008)       due in large part to their unique and
                   enthusiastic vision and/or their feelings of
                   obligation to budding societal norms. They are
                   innovators who see their business as embracing
                   environmental values as a central component of
                   their identity and as an aid to their competitive
                   advantage in the marketplace.

Gibbs (2009)       Ecopreneurs are defined as those entrepreneurs
                   who combine environmental awareness with their
                   business activities in a drive to shift the basis
                   of economic development towards one that is more
                   environmentally friendly.

Walton and         Ecopreneurs found new businesses based on the
Kirkwood (2009)    principle of sustainability.

Russo and          Definition of ecopreneurship: sustainable
Lundquist (2003)   entrepreneurship in SMEs.

Holt (2011)        Ecopreneurial businesses can be defined as
                   profit-generating businesses where environmental
                   considerations are the key to the business
                   culture, product or service.

Table 5: Definitions of sustainable entrepreneurship

Author            Definition

Keijzers (2002)   Sustainable enterprise is engaged in new forms of
                  governance involving stakeholders in deliberations
                  and negotiations on ecological improvements
                  relative to and balanced against economic and
                  social concerns within and outside of the firm.

Lordkipanidze     Sustainable entrepreneurship takes into
et al. (2005)     consideration social and environmental issues
                  together with economic ones.

Wheeler et al.    Sustainable local enterprise networks are
(2005)            organizational arrangements that deliver economic
                  and other benefits for all participants. At the
                  same time, they directly address traditional
                  objectives of sustainable development and poverty
                  alleviation pursued by development agencies such
                  as the United Nations.

Dean and          Sustainable entrepreneurship is defined as a
McMullen (2007)   process of discovering, evaluating, and exploiting
                  economic opportunities that are present in market
                  failures, which detract from sustainability,
                  including those that are environmentally relevant.

Choi and Gray     Sustainable entrepreneurs are individuals who are
(2008)            creating and building profitable companies that
                  also pursue environmental or social causes.

De Palma and      Sustainable entrepreneurship is defined as
Dobes (2010)      entrepreneurship which encompasses social,
                  economic and environmental concerns of relevant
                  internal and external stakeholders.

Hockerts and      We define sustainable entrepreneurship as the
Wustenhagen       discovery and exploitation of economic
(2010)            opportunities through the generation of market
                  disequilibria that initiate the transformation of
                  a sector towards an environmentally and socially
                  more sustainable state.

Kuckertz and      Sustainable entrepreneurship involves those
Wagner (2010)     entrepreneurial activities which contribute
                  positively to sustainable development and the
                  objectives derived from it.

Pacheco et al.    In distinguishing sustainable entrepreneurship
(2010)            from the broader field of entrepreneurship, we
                  suggest that one of the major differences rests in
                  the public and non-exclusive character of
                  environmental resources. Sustainable
                  entrepreneurship thus takes the character of a
                  structural form of entrepreneurship, which must
                  overcome not only market conditions, but also the
                  institutional barriers that preclude private
                  economic benefits.

Parrish (2010)    Sustainable entrepreneurs see the responsibility
                  for environmental and social outcomes not simply
                  as a cost of doing business, but as a central
                  purpose for being in business.

Morrish et al.    Sustainable corporate entrepreneurship can be
(2011)            augmented by a focus on opportunities derived from
                  the domain of sustainability including: (i)
                  environmental problems dealing with climate
                  change, food vs. fuel conflicts, or water use;
                  (ii) social accountability concerns such as
                  out-sourcing and the exploitation of child labour;
                  and (iii) economic issues such as job and income

Schaltegger and   Sustainable entrepreneurship can be described as
Wagner (2011)     an innovative, market-oriented, and
Spence et al.     personality-driven form of creating economic and
(2001)            societal value by means of breaking through
                  environmentally or socially beneficial markets,
                  and product or institutional innovations exceeding
                  the start-up phase of a company.

Shepherd and      Sustainable entrepreneurship is focused on the
Patzelt (2011)    preservation of nature, life support, and
                  community in the pursuit of perceived
                  opportunities to bring into existence future
                  products, processes, and services for gain, where
                  gain is broadly construed as including economic
                  and non-economic gains to individuals, the
                  economy, and society.
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