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Insider perspectives on growth: implications for a non-dichotomous understanding of ‘sustainable’ and conventional entrepreneurship

Klapper, Rita and Upham, Paul John and Blundell, Richard (2020) Insider perspectives on growth: implications for a non-dichotomous understanding of ‘sustainable’ and conventional entrepreneurship. Business Strategy and the Environment. ISSN 0964-4733 (In Press)

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to offer an alternative to a priori theorising in research on firm-level growth and environmental sustainability. We outline an approach that combines Shotter’s (2006) phenomenology with post-hoc application of the Bourdieusian concepts of habitus, practices and social capital. This is illustrated empirically through a study conducted with a small group of Finnish entrepreneurs, which examines their lived experience of growth alongside its practical application in their ventures. The entrepreneurs’ responses reveal holistic perspectives on growth that extend beyond the economic to incorporate personal commitments to norms of collectivity and well-being for themselves and others. The paper offers an exploratory but empirically-grounded approach, arguing that a combination of insiders’ perspectives and attention to the social embedding of economic activity challenge the dichotomous distinctions between sustainable and conventional entrepreneurship and reveal a degree of commonality that would not be evident via conventional categorisations on the basis of features such as business model type.

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