What motivates ecopreneurs tostart businesses?
Jodyanne Kirkwood and Sara Walton
Centre for Entrepreneurship, School of Business, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
– Ecopreneurs are those entrepreneurs who start for-proﬁt businesses with strongunderlying green values and who sell green products or services. This is an emerging ﬁeld whereresearch is still in its infancy. Research has been called for to understand the factors that motivatethese ecopreneurs to start businesses – and that is the focus of this study. The aim of this paper is tocompare the ﬁndings with results of extant literature on entrepreneurial motivations.
– This study comprises 14 in-depth case studies of ecopreneurialcompanies in New Zealand in 2008. Participants were interviewed in a face-to-face, semi-structuredformat. In total, 88 secondary sources such as media reports, industry statistics, and information fromcompany web sites were also collected.
– Ecopreneurs were motivated by ﬁve factors: their green values; earning a living; passion;being their own boss; and seeing a gap in the market. Ecopreneurs appear to have quite similarmotivations to entrepreneurs in general, aside from their green motivations. They had lower levelﬁnancial motivations than have been found in prior research on entrepreneurs. The ecopreneurs wereprimarily pulled into entrepreneurship, which bodes well for their ongoing success. The paper presentsa number of contributions to both the ecopreneurship and entrepreneurship literatures.
– The small sample is a potential limitation and the countrycontext may also inﬂuence the ﬁndings.
– This is one of the largest samples of ecopreneurs to date. Given the emergingnature of the ﬁeld of ecopreneurship, this study’s conclusions require further research and testing. Atotal of 11 such suggestions for future research are made.
Business formation, Entrepreneurs, Motivation (psychology), New Zealand
Ecopreneurs are emerging as a new breed of entrepreneur who are worthy of muchgreater consideration than has been given to date. The ﬁeld of ecopreneurship began toreceive research attention in the late 1990s (Anderson, 1998; Keogh and Polonsky, 1998;Pastakia, 1998), but is still in its infancy (Cohen and Winn, 2007). Clemens (2006)similarly notes that little research exists on the environment and small ﬁrms in general(see, for example de Bruin and Lewis, 2005). While there has been increasing researchinterest in discussing ecopreneurs from a conceptual perspective, there remains littleempirical research to date (Gibbs, 2007). Only one study could be located which focuseddirectly on the ecological orientation of founder’s start-up processes (Freimann
,2005). Where there has been useful related research, small sample sizes prevail.Authors to date have focused on single case studies (Dixon and Clifford, 2007), or smallsamples of between one and 10 cases (de Bruin and Lewis, 2005; Freimann
, 2005;Pastakia, 1998; Schaltegger, 2002). Others have studied co-operative ownershiparrangements in the energy sector (associative entrepreneurship) (Cato
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Received September 2008Revised February 2009Accepted April 2009
International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour &ResearchVol. 16 No. 3, 2010pp. 204-228
Emerald Group Publishing Limited1355-2554DOI 10.1108/13552551011042799