Motivations of Ecological Entrepreneurs in Germany and Scotland: A Network Study

Yasaman Sarabi, Thomas Peisl, Katharina Kammers


The purpose of this study is to investigate the motivations of ecological entrepreneurs, ‘ecopreneurs’ to engage in ecopreneurial ventures. Extant literature (for example, Marsden, 1993) within social network analysis focuses on how network ties shape the behaviour of actors embedded in a network. This has led to the development of social influence models; a methodological technique to examine the extent that the behaviour of an actor’s network partners shape and influence their own behaviour and opinions. We examine the impact of network ties on the motivations of individuals to become ecopreneurs and maintain their ecopreneurial businesses. We are also interested in discovering whether the motivations of ecopreneurs are influenced by the motivations and behaviours of their network partners. We look at the network structures in which ecopreneurs are embedded in, and investigate the impact of these structures on shaping the motivations of individuals becoming ecopreneurs at the first instance, and further on their motivations to stay ecopreneurs. We are also interested in discovering what ties could be beneficial to ecopreneurs for maintaining their business in the future. We have approached individuals in Germany and Scotland who identify themselves as ecopreneurs. The collected data includes the characteristics of their enterprise. We ask these ecopreneurs to tell us about their connections and relationships with personal, professional, and institutional contacts. This is done in the form of drawing their networks of relationships, focusing on advice, collaboration, and career discussion interactions prior and while establishing their businesses, as well as their current networks. With increasing environmental awareness, the need to inspire entrepreneurs to think ecologically is growing. Our research contributes to identifying the motivators for ecopreneurial ventures, focusing on operationalising network ties. We analyse ecopreneurs in different green industries as well as in two different cultural settings. The outcome of the research may lead to a start-up environment with more focus on ecological issues, as the attention of potential ecopreneurs is drawn to the need for creating more effective ties with green focus. This study is a follow-up on research by Harte, Kammers, and Peisl (in draft) which identified six key drivers emerging from the investigation into the motivations of German and Scottish ecopreneurs, in an exploratory study utilising organisation-based research.

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