Book Chapter

Fostering Sustainable Innovation Within Organizations

Over the past years many corporate business leaders have started to shift their strategy from a pure profit seeking one towards a balance in simultaneously striving to achieve economic, environmental and social goals (Elkington 1998; Preuss 2007; Roth 2009). As a result, challenges on the sustainability agenda have emerged as a new source of opportunities for innovation and competitive advantage (Fichter 2006; Hockerts 2008; Hansen et al. 2009). Research has shown that entrepreneurs are the main drivers of innovation, economic growth and social change (Audretsch 2002); hence, organizations try to adopt entrepreneurial approaches in order to spur their own innovativeness (Hamel 1999; Ireland et al. 2009). However, as recent publications have discussed, the promotion of entrepreneurship is a difficult and multifaceted issue requiring the consideration of dynamic processes describing the interplay of multiple external factors, local conditions and the individual innovators (Isenberg 2010; Krueger 2012; Vogel 2013). These difficulties are particularly distinct when discussing sustainable innovation, as risk-related reluctance in instigating this kind of innovation can still be observed among corporate leaders (Hall 2002). If established companies plan to take part in creating tomorrow’s economy, it will be necessary for them to challenge prevailing assumptions about innovation processes (Hamel 1999). The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the main success factors of entrepreneurial ecosystems and discuss ways how to assimilate these in an organizational context.


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