What is responsible entrepreneurship?

By Sarah Kollnig @ Montanuniversität Leoben | 9 March 2023

Entrepreneurs are persons who break with the static “business as usual”. They develop new ideas and approaches and, thus, bring a dynamic element into the business world. Their innovations are often met with resistance, and it takes time to establish them on the market.

Entrepreneurship is grounded and contextualized in wider society. Often, new ideas emerge at the interface between different actors, from private businesses over non-governmental organisations to the public sector. Nowadays, education for entrepreneurship also includes civic aspects, particularly being aware of and taking responsibility for societal challenges.

Responsible entrepreneurship entails taking responsibility for socio-ecological impacts generated in all phases and aspects of entrepreneurial activities. Responsibility can be read as “response-ability”, which means that taking responsibility often happens in response to political or societal demands. Examples for this are environmental impact assessments that are legally required or the demand for Corporate Social Responsibility reports.

Ideally, however, taking responsibility is not a passive response to external demands. Responsible entrepreneurs are proactive in developing products and services that address larger societal problems, such as plastic pollution. They might also go further and question the notion that businesses need to make ever higher profits.

In the blog entries to follow, we will find out about the different aspects of being a responsible entrepreneur, from avoiding greenwashing to interacting with consumers in a responsible and meaningful manner.

Sources and further reading:
Steyaert, Chris & Hjorth, Daniel (2006). Entrepreneurship as Social Change. A Third Movements in Entrepreneurship Book. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing

Image credits:
Jon Sullivan (public domain)

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