Sustainopreneurship – Business with a Cause: The promise of creative business organizing for sustainability

1. The Sustainability Challenge – an introduction Poverty. Climate Change. HIV/AIDS. The contemporary world problems are lined up. We have a world where approximately 4 billions of people live on less than $4 a day. A temperature increase in the atmosphere has lead to severe climate effects with weather catastrophes, droughts, floods and polar ice meltdowns. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is on its way to make the major part of a whole continent implode, with vicious circles that makes Africa loose parents, teachers, doctors, farmers and bread-winners for families leaving kids alone in the streets. The dominant approaches to solve these 'world problems' are prevailing with fixed mindsets, where institutional order mainly 'locks in' these problems, roughly described;

Fig 1. Locking in Sustainability problems. Source: Abrahamsson (2007a:8), inspired by Prahalad (2004:9). Academia is troubled by inherited paradigms, where change of perspective can be hard to do with dominant paradigms and dynamics of heterodoxy missing. The Private sector has a strong tradition heralding the externalisation of costs, especially the big businesses driven by the need to satisfy shareholder short-term (monetary) value returns with increasing payback on (financial) investments, where banking, media and globalized trade together creates a

Heavily edited version from a paper first presented at the 13th International Sustainable Development Research Conference, Mälardalens Högskola, Västerås, 10-12 June, 2007 (Abrahamsson, 2007b).


vicious circle in the quarterly report jail. Politicians and authorities are fixated with aid-asusual, in between the election cycles trapping their action, and to regulate as a focus, to 'force' e. g. business, still needed since Big Business do not seem to act by its own de facto long-term interest of 'doing good'. Finally, in the NGO corner and voluntary sector, there is a view that those are the only ones acting in the true interest of the needy, a self-image that can be false, and maybe the need of being perceived as an angel overrides the true listening of genuine needs of the 'clients'. The time needed to act upon the problems is troubled with the collective inertia found within these institutions set to deal with the problems, where the present institutional order and time horizons limits the seeking and deployment of the fundamental, radical, deep and profound solutions needed. Processes requiring a generation – or seven – in perspective, easily falls in between the chairs, and gets overlooked with this institutional inertia. Entrepreneurship, with its capacity to 'think outside the box', then maybe is the main key to sustainable development, but not just whatever kind of entrepreneurship, but sustainopreneurship, see Schaltegger (2000), Gerlach (2003b), Abrahamsson (2006, 2007a, b). It is a concept that invites itself to fulfil a greater part in the challenge to create a sustainable world, e. g. by moving this top down approach to a bottom up interaction process from a local and regional context with a global holistic awareness and connection. With the occurrence of sustainability-related problems often found in the local setting (e. g. lack of energy or clean water), the solution is often implementable locally (e. g. with solar panels or germ-killing UV-radiators for clean waters). So if we are going to set up enterprises in the local setting, why not observe the sustainability problems as a good local enterprising and business opportunity? As suggested by Johannisson and Lindholm-Dahlstrand in the introductory chapter framing this book, giving the rationale for all different contributions in this book, together we seek to bridge the functional and territorial views of enterprising for local and regional development, coupled with a global outlook and connection. The conceptualization of sustainopreneurship is one of many possible concepts with this aspiration to act as such a bridge, in the context of a general need and desire to reframe and reconceptualize to increase understanding relevant for all institutions represented and illustrated in Fig 1., e. g. by its general purpose to overcome inter-institutional communication breakdown and construct a concept from which a new conceptual body can emerge and depart from enriching this conversation towards the constructive and implementable. Empowering local (and regional) economy in itself has been identified as a pathway to sustainability (cf.. NUTEK, 2006), and sustainopreneurship sharpens and enriches the concretization and content of such a conversation in more distinct and goal-oriented terms for constructive local and regional (inter)action for agents, by using business means to solve sustainability-related problems in this context. The definition of the concept has been done in earlier research (Abrahamsson 2006, 2007a, b) where the following definition of sustainopreneurship was proposed and proven to be viable to describe practical (inter)action; Imagine Oxford English Dictionary, 2009 ed. Sustainopreneurship, n.
1. Deployment of sustainability innovations: Entrepreneurship and innovation for sustainability.


2. Short for sustainability intra-/entrepreneurship. 3. To focus on one or more (world/social/sustainability related) problem(s), find/identify and/or invent a solution to the problem(s) and bring the innovation to the market by creating an efficient organisation. With the (new alt. deep transformation of an old) mission/cause oriented sustainability business created, adding ecological/economical/social values and gains, with a bias towards the intangible - through dematerialization/resocialisation. The value added at the same time preserving, restoring and/or ultimately enhancing the underlying utilized capital stock, in order to maintain the capacity to fulfil the needs of present and coming generations of stakeholders.

Given the frame of this book, enterprising in the local and regional settings as a mode of development, sustainopreneurship is needed to be related to the proposed frame developed to bridge functional and territorial rationales by the editors in order to generate some bridging research questions created in dynamic interplay in between this frame and the concept of sustainopreneurship. Contexts are given, where geographical and social settings requires different kinds of sustainability innovations – and needs are addressed differently in the developing, emerging and developed economies. Human needs are quite constant over time, but the means to fulfil them differs. The bottom line – conversation related to local and regional development in general and how it can be studied demands that there are localities and regions – a planet to live on and a world to populate – thus 'sustainability' in relation to 'entrepreneurship' and 'local and regional development' gets important to address in the same context. This motivates the introduction of the conceptual frame of sustainopreneurship here an approach of proactive un-orthodox –preneurial attitude towards the sustainability agenda. Maturity has been reached to take the next step, with the definition above now tried and tested. The purpose of this chapter is to outline a prospective research agenda for further inquiry on sustainopreneurship - in idea, applied interaction and reflective practice. The chapter is done predominantly by extracting essentials from my master thesis (Abrahamsson, 2007a), and from these identify implications to outline a gross list of research challenges to rise to, in an explorative mode. It provides an open ended discussion, a dialogue to introduce in wider arenas, both among academics and practitioners, and especially those 'in between', the 'pracademics' who travel effortlessly in both social and mental rooms. The chapter is structured as follows: Next section sets sustainability context, with a general proposition identifying business as a sustainability force. The third section summarizes conceptual development and highlights some key dimensions in a deepened reasoning. The fourth section invites to prospective research conversations on prospective core elements, vital for increased understanding and proliferation of the concept, in idea and application, where the fifth section reflects upon what methodology to use to meet research challenges ahead. The chapter is wrapped up in a discussion in the last section on how to open up the world to include the excluded voices of the majority of the six point seven billion people to be able to contribute to the answers related to this conversation, especially on how to mobilize and empower local sustainopreneurial initiatives. 2. The Sustainability Context The context of sustainability demands a holistic mindset, sets conditions of complexity, call for urgency and ingenuity, and need for tangible, real-world results achieved through creative


organizing with a holistic mindset from forces prepared to rise to this challenge. I introduce a world-view in order to make a major reset and get 'back to basics', to place a foundation where distortions made from the institutional overlayering done illustrated by the “locking in” figure is defined away, and opens up for a part of the business world that constructively embraces this holistic view. 2.1 World-view: The Holarchy of Sustainability Dominant models of the sustainability concept have been covered by Frostell (2006:235). One of five models recalled by Frostell is the so-called 'target board'. I have made a connection here to what A. Koestler (1967/1990) defined as 'holarchies' - the levelled relations in between 'hierarchies of holons', where 'holons' are 'part-wholes'. Every system, with this view, is a part of a system at a higher level, and integrates systems at lower levels. Applied in this context is the relation in between the ecological, social and economical systems in the biosphere, with the biosphere understood as a part of the atmosphere where living organisms only sustain with some kind of life support system: Within a thin, vulnerable and sensitive layer surrounding our common planet we all share.

Fig 2. Sustainability world-view: The Holarchy of Economy, Society and the Environment. Source: Sustainable Measures.

A consciously self-evident and self-explanatory model, outlining economic activity as one of those going on in society in between humans, using and utilizing natural capital and supported by eco-services as well as social services, where other social activities do not have a direct economic annotation. Regardless of economic or non-economic activity, all our human activity takes place within the boundaries of the environment; this is a world-view I subscribe to and is representing the ever-present, explicit as well as implicit meta-context where the social phenomenon sustainopreneurship is placed within and related to. These domains are not isolated entities, they are part of the whole, and none of these systems are possible to made closed, they are all open and inter-related. This is emphasized also by new strands of pioneering “network research”, with a core statement - 'everything is connected to everything else', ideas emergent since the sixties, but has been given both deeper empirical solidification


and strengthened meta-theorizing contributions from the new generic network research, see e. g. Barabasi (2002). In short – what goes around, comes around. Nothing new under the sun with the “whole systems” approach, but a moment reached to maybe re-emphasize, and go beyond academic rhetoric – translated into action. With this awareness a question emerges how can business activity contribute positively to the sustaining of the critical life support systems implied by this holistic view? 2.2 Identifying a Constructive Response from the Business World The business world has been nominated as a premier force to create a sustainable world (Hart, 2005:3-7, Prahalad, 2004), especially when acting as a source of innovation and creativity - e. g. as Robinson (2004:378; my bold) puts it:
“In addition to integrating across fields, sustainability must also be integrated across sectors or interests. It is clear that governments alone have neither the will nor the capability to accomplish sustainability on their own. The private sector, as the chief engine of economic activity on the planet, and a major source for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, must be involved in trying to achieve sustainability.”

Still, both from the literature (Prahalad, Ibid.) and from my practical experiences, witnesses are made that 'business as a sustainability solution' have to overcome obstacles – but for entrepreneurs, resistance is an asset and challenges are there to be risen to. Entrepreneurs in general, in contrast to the dominating experience of short-term acting from corporates and governments mentioned before, has shown to pursue long-term visions, where equal time is spent on “what to do” within the next 24 hours – everydayness and hands-on problem solving - and where the team want to take the business in ten to fifteen years – the visions. One way to illustrate this is what I call 'the entrepreneurial smile' curve (Johannisson, 2005:48). These two different time perspectives dominates: To deal with everydayness in practical action or to develop visions – even the creation of new worlds – and the mid-term time perspective (like the ones capturing the annual budgeting with a one-year planning as main conversation topic and reason for decision and action) gets overlooked.

Fig 3. Driving forces of entrepreneurship: Dialogue in between vision and action. Source: Johannisson,2005:48. Translation: Author.

Goodyear (vulcanized rubber), Xerox (Xerography): These are results of decades of tireless 5

and long-term work coming from a conviction that there is a solution to find – and then getting it to markets and society at large, to transform our lives. IKEA from company registration in the forties, to the smash hit in establishing the second store in Kungens Kurva, Stockholm in the sixties, to the biggest home furnishing company in the world illustrate this 2. With this concluded, I claim that sustainopreneurship (Abrahamsson 2006, 2007a, b) could be the accentuating factor to give even more leverage to forces emerging from world of business activities to contribute to sustainability. Value-driven ventures such as Anita Roddick’s Body Shop and Muhammad Yunus’ Grameen bank echoes the approach of long term and visionary transformation, using business organizing as a means to change the world. All points entrepreneurship to be a key part to get a sustainable world, acting outside the box trapping sustainability problems, as illustrated before3.

3. Sustainopreneurship dimensions

– conceptual




The concept sustainopreneurship was first introduced syntactically in 2000 (Schaltegger, 2000) where it predominantly was related to the proactive change management approaches associated with process adjustment with increased respect to the environment. The phenomenon developed with publications in 2003 (Hockerts 2003, Gerlach 2003a, b), and further evolved and tentatively was defined in 2006 (Abrahamsson, 2006). This conceptual development conducted from my side came from the dissatisfaction that the earlier descriptions did not grasp the own experience with venturing initiated and done. A strong drive for conceptual construction thus was to make sense of enacted experience, as reflected by the story-telling in my Master Thesis, enactive research process (Johannisson, 2002, 2005) confirmed that the definition stood the test. This approach worked as a retrospective sensemaker for my own sustainopreneurial processes, and fulfilled the intended function to describe the venturing on an abstract level (Abrahamsson, 2007a). A first draft to identify future research challenges was made beyond this (Abrahamsson, 2007b). In general, entrepreneurial discourse has opened up to move beyond a strictly economic phenomenon, rather as to be perceived primarily as a social process at large (Steyaert andKatz, 2004). Preceding conceptual formation were two traces of social entrepreneurship and eco-preneurship, dealing with social and ecological dimensions of sustainability primarily. Primary associations with social entrepreneurship also has been establishing notfor-profit venturing and charities to innovatively address and solve social problems whereas eco-preneurship has been primarily focused on solving environmental problems (Gerlach 2003.). Both these traces of conceptual development are taken beyond, merges and integrates into the suggested conceptual construct at hand, where distinctions are made from both these concepts – sustainopreneurial processes are done institutionally through for-profit organizing, but not with profit as its main driving force. Sustainopreneurial venturing is done in a holistic manner


In order to keep space for long term action, and not be trapped by quarterly reporting towards shareholders, IKEA has not notified itself on any stock market. In this context, I want to send a strong addressing in memoriam of Anita Roddick that passed away suddenly September 10, 2007 – she, together with Muhammad Yunus, developed and -preneured their respective ventures intuitively, towards what we today call “sustainability”, with first elements both and in true parallel since 1976. They have been two of the major role models and inspirational sources early on to inspire me to the action I have conducted and the conceptual development, with the “business as unusual” (Roddick, 2005) Anita did during her lifetime continues to live on with her legacy.


that meets both ecological and social challenges simultaneously in both purpose and process. The definition of sustainopreneurship, as presented in the introduction, need to be highlighted with three distinguishing dimensions; all three are simultaneously present in the interaction it reflects. Firstly, sustainopreneurship consciously sets out to find and/or create innovations to solve sustainability-related problems. The conscious mission that guides the action, especially in the nascent '–preneurial' stage before venturing forms and formalizes into an institutionalized business entity, is to deliberately find practical and innovative solutions to problems related to the sustainability agenda. This is the main key to distinguish this category of entrepreneurial activity and behaviour labelled sustainopreneurship from generic entrepreneurial activity: The cause-oriented intention that places the core motive, purpose and driving force of the business activities. To identify and further grasp what is meant by sustainability problems, I recall central sources in the global sustainable development discourse, which guides us what is meant practically and operationally with sustainability in action. I use the outcome of diverse sources to summarize the list of “sustainability related problems”, determined by the political action plan documented in Agenda 21 (UN, 1992), the Millennium Declaration defining the Millennium Development Goals (UN, 2000), both agreed at the Millennium Summit in New York 2000, and the WSSD Plan of Implementation decided upon at World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg 2002 (UN, 2002). This list derived and synthesized from these sources lines up areas with problems associated to solve, goals to reach, and values to create;
• • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Poverty Water and Sanitation Health Education/illiteracy Sustainable production- and consumption patterns Climate change and energy systems Chemicals Urbanisation Ecosystems, biological diversity and land use Utilisation of sea resources Food and agriculture Trade Justice Social stability, democracy and good governance Peace and Security

Secondly, sustainopreneurship means to get solutions to the market through creative organizing. The line-up above could make you easily depressed. But, a fundamental attitude to acquire and keep when this list of sustainability-related problems is compiled and then considered is to avoid falling into disempowerment and despair. It is of core importance to take the agenda as entrepreneurial challenges – to view problems as possibilities, obstacles as opportunities, and resistance as a resource, whatever nature of the resistance. If the solution is generated by creativity, equally important is to take it to the market in a creative and innovative way. In this dimension, there is nothing that really differs from the generic entrepreneurial description I subscribe to, but this comes natural since sustainopreneurship is a conceptual extension and development from the social phenomenon named entrepreneurship, and thus inherits one of its perceived key dimensions, 'entrepreneurship as


creative organizing' (Johannisson, 2005). Market is used, as well, not society primarily, since it implies business establishment – a sustainability business that still knows its place and role in the holarchy mentioned earlier. Bringing something to the market, at the same time brings it to society and our shared physical environment. Thirdly, sustainopreneurship in process adds sustainability value with respect for life support systems. The awareness that the (economic) market is an embedded sub-system in the “sociosphere” that in turn is a part of the 'bio-sphere', as illustrated before in Fig 2., is made explicit. This awareness naturally and self-evident makes the sustainopreneurial team to maximize harmony with life support systems in the process: With joy and pride lives the epitome of the generic definition on “sustainable development” in the business venturing. In short – living the generic definition of sustainable development as defined by WCED (1987), with respect to the needs of present and future stakeholders, keeping the holistic world-view and letting it guide everyday (inter)action. 3.1 Sustainable vs. Sustainability Entrepreneurship With these dimensions clarified, and distinctions made, I need to address a common conceptual vagueness or lack of clarity, where I identify a strong need to distinguish clearly in between sustainable, vs. sustainability entrepreneurship. From this point of view, I claim a very important distinction with the concept formed - sustainability entrepreneurship as in the concept sustainopreneurship; the use of entrepreneurial activity in a determined action orientation towards solving a sustainability-related problem with business organising as a means to solve the problem(s) – 'business with a cause': To turn business activity from a part of the problem to a part of the solution. Sustainable entrepreneurship is just a generic entrepreneurial process that takes in consideration the boundaries set by sustainability, and do not address where to and why, the destination, the purpose, the aim of the venture. The strategic intent and the business idea in itself are not related to sustainability per se, sustainability is just an “attachment” to the entrepreneurial process. The second and third dimensions are represented, but not the first. Sustainability entrepreneurship, in contrast, takes as its root of existence and strategic aim to solve a sustainability-related problem. This means that all three dimensions are simultaneously present: To take a sustainability innovation to the market through creative organizing with respect for life-supporting systems in the process. 4. Conversation – What to Research? Science can be viewed as a conversation with researchers as story-tellers, creating narratives and engage in a game, where rules are set by referencing practices in exchange between individuals (Czarniawska, 1998:51-63). 4.1 Conceptual development and positioning Conceptually, a deeper analysis needs to be conducted with a nuanced and detailed taxonomy, deepening the 'what' aspect of sustainopreneurship. A tentative framework created of sustainability innovations, the core of sustainopreneurship, primarily used to catalogue and categorize case stories needs to be created , where explanations could be covered by future research. With this systematization, important areas and domains for sustainopreneurship applied gets identified and highlighted as well. Further, a more detailed description to position sustainopreneurship towards other concepts in the wider, general idea-sphere of the 'business case of sustainability', a contemporary plethora of 'buzz-words', see e. g. Hart (2005, 3rd ch.).


4.2 Obstacles and key enablers It is recommended, though, to keep research applied, to identify obstacles and institutional barriers, and how to overcome them; i. e. facilitating factors for sustainopreneurship, researching prospective tools, enablers and approaches, addressing the 'how' aspect of sustainopreneurship. Some tertiary sources points at problems entrepreneurs encounter who takes part or whole of the sustainability-driven problem agenda as core motivation for and orientation of businesscreation (SustainAbility/Skoll Foundation, 2007). A pattern emerges, re-confirmed by primary experiences as a practitioner and secondary experiences in conversation with other kins. Main obstacles, divides and barriers are primarily low access to financial capital, difficulties with efficient promoting and marketing and lack of people with the scarce combination of skills and attitudes needed. Possible origins worth further research can be found: Dominantly world-views, mindsets, attitudes, and lack of knowledge and competence. This form a departure to seek key enablers and 'conceptual bridges - or battering rams': Rigidities are met with networking. Communication breakdown is met with innovative branding. Access denied to formal capital gets compensated with these activities through creative resourcing, coupled with financial innovation. A promise made to identify key components in a toolbox for sustainopreneurs to facilitate the rise to the challenges are found in these domains, in interplay, creating leverage in the interaction route and sharing an intention to create a sustainable world.

5. Challenge – How to Research?
In contrast to the conversational approach to science (Czarniawska, ibid.), research can also be viewed as enacted experience (Johannisson, 2005). In order to rise to the challenge, two methodological approaches, besides case story collecting and an analytical approach described in the last section, are presented here: 'open space technology' and 'enactive research'. 5.1 Open Space – self-organized conferencing towards collaborative, collective wisdom Open Space Technology (OS) is a meeting facilitation method demonstrated to have the power to break down institutional barriers demanded by the issues at hand, with the purpose to create a genuine multi-stakeholder dialogue., and has proven to initiate a self-organizing process with deep participation and commitment from the stakeholders attending, and a release of creative energies as a result (Owen, 1998). It is appropriate where a real issue needs to be solved, and where levels of complexity, diversity and conflict (potential or actual) are high, and “the decision time /was/ yesterday”.Comparing with the conditions set by sustainability in second section, OS seems ideal for the task. Reducing complexity with simplicity, the few set of rules. To begin with, four principles (ibid.); 1) Whoever comes is the right people, 2) Whatever happens is the only thing that could have, 3) Whenever it starts is the right time 4) When it´s over, it´s over. Going together with these four principles is the Law of Two Feet (Owen, 1998):
“/.../ which states simply, if at any time you find yourself in any situation where you are neither


learning nor contributing – use your two feet and move to some place more to your liking. Such a place might be another group, or even outside into the sunshine. No matter what, don't sit there feeling miserable. The law, as stated, may sound like rank hedonism, but even hedonism has its place, reminding us that unhappy people are unlikely to be productive people. Actually the Law of Two Feet goes rather beyond hedonistic pandering to personal desires. One of the most profound impacts of the law is to make it exuisitively clear precisely who is responsible for the quality of the participant´s learning. If any situation is not learning rich, it is incumbent upon the individual participant to make it so. There is no point in blaming the conference committee, for none exists. Responsibility resides with the individual.”

This also echoes a good foundation to create a sustainable world, where the individual responsibility in all situations to create betterment gets emphasized, clear and obvious. I have experienced the power of Open Space meetings several times. In concrete terms, I suggest to use Open Space as the most dynamic way to collect experiences from the case story creators themselves – the sustainopreneurs – to generate collaborative and collective wisdom emerging from these self-organized get-togethers. 5.2 Enactive Research – learning by and from intense and passionate doing - Enactive Research, a special form of interactive research method, advocated for and developed by professor Bengt Johannisson (2002:5):
“[Enactive research] suggests that the researcher her/himself launches a presumably entrepreneurial project and combines that direct (inter)action with self-reflexivity./.../the researcher reflects upon a phenomenon that s/he has lived through and therefore offers familiarity and tacit knowing. ”4

In other words: In order to gain further insight in a social phenomenon like entrepreneurship, you yourself as a researcher have to initiate an entrepreneurial event. The process of enactive research suggests a dissolving and vaporizing of the barriers in between these communities of practice, constructed mostly by unwritten rules and social codexes defined by mindsets and socially expected behaviours. The concrete way to bring the empirical material to text in the enactive research approach is to apply what is named self-ethnography. It means that the researcher studies herself as an agent in the own well-established life environment. Idealistically, the researcher should reduce the bias as a researcher, and more full-blooded live out in the ‘natural’ context and function the researcher finds himself in. The approach demands full and strong emotional commitment and participation (Johannisson, 2005:386). The ethnography itself results in stories, where the classic work of John van Maanen (1988) guides us in three main ethnographical ”tales of the field”: the realist tale, the impressionist tale and the confessional tale. The realist tale aims to describe the (inter)activities that in a(n entrepreneurial) process combine into the event at hand as if the researcher was there with a camera – to depict them as they 'were', preferred maybe in chronological order. The impressionist tale mixes more of the author and the direct event at hand experienced, and uses more dramatic elements and emotions. The confessional tale involves the most of what goes on 'within' the author, how she develops and relates to the experienced. Full-fledged enactive research tells all three– and beyond (Johannisson, 2005:374). This method was used to find a concept to describe the social process of venturing I was a part of initiating together with a start-up team5: The dominant drive for this conceptual
4 5

Ibid., my translation. The core team through the process, and up until today still active in the process, consists of me and my partner


development has been and is the conceptual dissatisfaction with traditional entrepreneurship theory, as well as much of the ideas related to social entrepreneurship and eco-preneurship, emerging from the entrepreneurship for sustainability route done with ventures On a Mission and Ignition (Abrahamsson, 2007a). Much of the early days of development was done by intuitive insight, as covered by Abrahamsson (2005), where much of the (en)acting outside the box was done by intuition, and (thus) without a vocabulary.

On a Mission Sverige – Ek. För. / On a Mission Sweden – Inc. Ass.
OAM is retrospectively defined as a virtual test bed for Sustainability Innovations. It was brand named before (Feb 2001, after an intense route of sustainability innovation discovery from the original “ignition” in January 2000) and constituted beyond my field research and interaction in Uganda (Sept 2001 to May 2002), in June 2002. It had a sister venture in Uganda, On a Mission Uganda, developing in parallel some sustainability innovations where particularly successful was - a school for street citizens and children to disabled women teaching basic also entrepreneurship/small business in suburban Kampala skills and

- a rural young entrepreneur's program as an extracurricular activity in SouthWestern Uganda - a water purification system using natural material in the same setting - a nutrition education program using networked education method, educating the educators who educated the educators down to grassroot's village level OAM was representing Växjö University and Sweden in the global SIFE Competition after winning the Swedish Championship, Students in Free Enterprise, a global student social entrepreneurship competition, in 2004 - the first year running in Sweden. During the years seven brands has been developed through the OAM platform; 1. Club PuLS™ 2. DJ Anders 3. SEEDS Sustainability Investment Fund 4. SEEDS Magazine 5. Ignition® 6. SLICE Services and Publishing™ 7. S*E*N*S*A Three of these have been launched and leading to commercial activity with independent spin-offs (1, 2 and 6), two is pending future activity and spin-off (3 and 5), and two are yet to see their destinies (4 and 7). They are described in more detail in Abrahamsson, 2007a.

Rikard Jansson. Too many to mention have contributed in one way or another, directly as well as indirectly.


The major sustainability business concept development through OAM has been the Ignition® brand.

Ignition® - “genuine wear for a sustainable lifestyle”
Ignition was registered with its brand, and business plan completed, in the Fall of 2006, with key elements of its business plan researched and anchored in the academic community during 2007, and now ready for spin-off in its own independent venture 2008. It is currently seeking financing for this launch. The Ignition® brand is intended to enable a sustainable lifestyle. Merchandise for for businesses and organizations who wants to identify and communicate themselves as sustainable. Fair traded organic cotton clothes from India are deliver directly to end consumer with customized printing and design to support various communication and campaign activities. Means from the business will fuel an investment fund that empowers sustainopreneurship and sustainopreneurs - sustainability innovators to make a business of their innovations - with prioritized areas Strengthening of Health, Education, Entrepreneurship, Digital Unification and Sustainable Distributed Energy - “SEEDS”.

Brand Tag Cloud - “what Ignition® stands for”
“walk the talk”



innovation creativity

inspiration credibility

power to act

endurance patience humility joy


enabler norm creator awareness

change dialogue respect
agility integrity realization results proactive

The enactive research method was ideal to generate new concepts – and knowledge – from a process that felt chaotic and unpredictable while being in the flow. Given enough distance, and concentrated, deliberate, meditative reflection, with a break from the operations from the business at large during the most intense Thesis Authoring in the enactive writing phase, the method has proven itself to work to increase sense-making of a phenomenon. Thus, I now suggest it should be continued to be researched in this way, with the value created so far: as a generator of profound insights and even pioneering conceptual development. The


establishment of Ignition in its next steps, a move towards an independent spin-off from On a Mission and its launching process towards consolidation used as an empirical base. Stories already documented from own enacted experiences are open for research, and thematically, branding, networking and financing, emerge as core enablers in repeated course of events and modes of operation6. Also, concrete value for stakeholders involved is generated through enactive processes, contributing hands-on to increased sustainability with better environment, social conditions and increased public awareness: Practical results are reached at the same time as the research is conducted, not as a result after an implementation of the research findings. The approach obviously implies setting up sustainopreneurial ventures as a means to gain further insight about the concept.

6. Generating questions for future conversation and interaction
The purpose of this chapter has been to make a mapping of prospective future research related to sustainopreneurship, and here follows a discussion that leads us to a couple of questions for future conversations. 6.1 Collapsing Degrees of Separation: In the Quest for Collective Wisdom The key on how to go further is to generate answers through collaborative, collective dialogue and conversation that gets transformed into action where the “talk is walked” with an explicit results orientation. Thus, it is of striking importance to have in mind not just the questions themselves in an abstract manner, but also how to attract authentic forces potential to hear the call of the invitation. There is a medium beyond appropriate to leverage this collective wisdom and insight sharing: the World Wide Web7. A new phenomenon defined as “social media”, with blogs, forums, virtual communities, wikis and websites defines and opens up for user-generated content through a self-organized conversation and sharing. The online environment also with ease allows other forms of media than text, and all equally easy to syndicate and duplicate in different contexts, increasing speed of diffusion and transfer in the various virtual places and empowered peer to peer conversation and conversion: Pictures, graphics, video and audio; believed to have a higher degree of communicational efficiency and power - especially those techniques who utilize visualization of complexities. As a result, a collapse of the degree of separation in between individuals, teams, social networks and communities of practice, virtual as well as physical, with humans from all walks of life sharing intentions towards a sustainable world: An increase of the proximity and

Networking has helped our venturing in both ends of the supply chain, see e. g. Abrahamsson, 2007:61-63. Branding and identity-making has been a strong component, and intense energy has been put into filling the


collective identities with a promise for sustainability, see inserts and Abrahamsson, Ibid., pp. 60-64. The stories of financial bootstrapping, finally - how we have compensated the lack of formal financial capital are endless, and this excessively rich material can be given to future research. Enactive research has been done with the majority of these virtual tools to leverage collective insight around sustainopreneurship already, with the blog first established by me 2004 at, and in late 2007 two communities has been created, one group over at Facebook, “Sustainopreneur's Square”, and one independent virtual community, “Sustainopreneur's Café”. See as the main hub of sustainopreneurship resources, including an interim association for organizing sustainopreneurship research, iÆREAS – Interim Association for Enactive Research, Education and Application of Sustainopreneurship.


numbers of linkages in between ideas, innovations, projects, businesses and organizations generated with the intention to find ways on how to sustain the biosphere and its inhabitants. It is anticipated that the “immaterial gravitational force” increases in this process, with higher density created: A positive feedback loop is created, where more authentic sustainability business forces are attracted – sustainopreneurs - in the end creating a process and generating a result as illustrated, in contrast to the institutional framing that introduced this chapter, in itself inducing many strands of possible research areas for future descriptions. Where I emphasise the desired end – a sustainable world, where all local and regional settings gets empowered through sustainopreneurship. 6.2 Setting sustainopreneurship to play in the local and regional context A concrete departure for such a joint conversation and common interaction is to see how the three different dimensions in the framework/model introduced by the editors of this book facilitates sustainopreneurial processes, and what practical implications this might result in “setting sustainopreneurship in play in the local and regional context”. The general risk when constructing models is, given the complex, multi-dimensional world we live in, some important factors and/or dimensions of magnitude get excluded, where I find the virtual localities appearing at the World Wide Web (virtual communities of practice) to mainly be excluded in the model, and that is worth further research to fill this gap. Here lies a hope I then, in lack of other means, relate to the “outlook” dimension. With the “cyberspace” implied by the weak local ties and strong, to some extent very strong, virtual ties through virtual localities, carries a hope to revamp and empower the rural settings wherever they are, in developing, emerging and developed economies – to be a part of the game, and not left behind, replacing marginalization with inclusion. In themselves building that bridge not only in between the localities, but also creating interchanges of skills – making that bridge not just in between the respective functional and territorial rationales, but also in between different functions and different localities/life settings where e. g. the urban/rural dimension vaporizes as a result of an experienced joint social and mental room in the virtual locality in a process towards inclusion. Sustainopreneurship thus can get some facilitating factors through start centers not just in the developed economies context, but certainly in the developing economies as well as in emerging economies. These 'Micro Sustainopreneurial Zones' could create dynamic synergies that would speed up a process of making sustainopreneurship a proactive force for sustainable development in these geo-social settings - especially if they are focused on triggering proliferation and innovation diffusion aimed at rural modernization. In short – sustainopreneurship can be set to play by first and foremost giving them playground, both physical as well as virtual. Sustainopreneurship applied in local and regional interaction gives great hope, where settings are utilizing its own embedded natural, social, knowledge and creative capital to solve its unique, place and culture defined sustainability problems and find equally unique solutions, turning them into viable business models aiming for self-sustainability, empowerment and independence. Outside, non-colonial, respectful empowerment and micro-intervention should focus technology transfer (e. g. solar energy, telecommunication, computers, Internet connection), done by the terms set by the locals and their formulated needs. The international financial capital coupling the technology transfer, prospectively should be fuelled through micro finance intermediaries together with localized mentoring for sustainopreneurial businesses from other local and seasoned, experienced people transferring their experiences in


order to strengthen tacit knowledge generation in play – on, and with respect to, their own living conditions.

Fig 4. Opening the virtual and physical spaces and initiating a common action-oriented inclusive dialogue with sustainability as the middle of the conversation, generating a learning dialogue with healthy confusion, orderly chaos and learning conflicts, in order to upgrade the path towards a sustainable world. Source: Author.


6.3 Questions – a Summary The chapter is summarized through formulation of a sample of prospective research questions: An important mission is to formulate Questions That Matter. Questions guide direction, set intentions, and attract answers through collaborative sharing of insights in a process, focus attention and thus allocate time and energy to transform intermediate answers.
• How can we deepen the understanding of the concept “sustainability innovation”, experienced as the core of the concept of sustainopreneurship, and how can “sustainopreneurship” as a concept be positioned in the vocabulary related to “the business case of sustainability” at large? How can sustainopreneurship be set into play in the functional and territorial rationales where it gets empowered, and fuelling local and regional dynamics through multi-local and inter-local processes with supportive infrastructure and facilitated by a global outreach and connection made possible in both cultural and technical aspects through virtual localities, coupled with enablers such as branding, networking and financing?

and finally, a meta-question, • How can we innovate and interact in order to reach a critical mass of people and energies to create a sustainable world?


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