Original Research - Special Collection: Creating value through entrepreneurial learning

Sustainable entrepreneurship, identity and context: A comparison of Norway and South Africa

Oda Camilla Rykkje, Øystein S. Høvig, Inger Beate Pettersen
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 15, No 1 | a739 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v15i1.739 | © 2023 Oda Camilla Rykkje, Øystein S. Høvig, Inger Beate Pettersen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 March 2023 | Published: 27 December 2023

About the author(s)

Oda Camilla Rykkje, Mohn Centre for Innovation and Regional Development, Faculty of Engineering and Sciences, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, Norway
Øystein S. Høvig, Mohn Centre for Innovation and Regional Development, Faculty of Engineering and Sciences, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, Norway
Inger Beate Pettersen, Mohn Centre for Innovation and Regional Development, Faculty of Engineering and Sciences, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, Norway

Abstract

Background: To reach a more sustainable future, sustainable entrepreneurship is proposed to play a critical role. To understand why sustainable entrepreneurs engage in a sustainable venture process, we need to understand the individual entrepreneur but also the context in which they operate.

Aim: This research aims to explore what role context plays in forming sustainable entrepreneurs through their identity, by comparing Norwegian and South African sustainable entrepreneurs.

Setting: The study compares sustainable entrepreneurs from Western Norway, Norway, and Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Methods: A qualitative method, following a life story approach, was adopted. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the Norwegian and South African sustainable entrepreneurs, using a combination of face-to-face and online interviews. A three-stage approach was used to analyse the data; firstly individual, secondly by country context, and lastly by comparing cross-country.

Results: The findings revealed that the context where the sustainable entrepreneurs operate greatly influences their identity and how they view entrepreneurship, sustainability, and their missions and goals with their ventures.

Conclusion: Sustainable entrepreneurs’ identity is profoundly impacted in the context they live, and different contexts influence their perception and action on sustainability and venture creation, where social aspects of sustainability may be more prominent in an emerging economy and environmental aspects in an advanced economy.

Contribution: The study contributes to the literature by enhancing our understanding of the relationship between context and sustainable entrepreneurship from advanced and emerging economies. The findings provide practical guidance to educators and policy makers on how sustainable entrepreneurship can be incentivised.


Keywords

sustainable entrepreneurship; identity; context; Norway; South Africa; life story approach.

JEL Codes

L26: Entrepreneurship; Q56: Environment and Development • Environment and Trade • Sustainability • Environmental Accounts and Accounting • Environmental Equity • Population Growth; Z10: General

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Metrics

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