I have been struggling with the emerging field of sustainable entrepreneurship, which has its roots in the concept of sustainable development that grew out of the environmental and conservation movement of the 1970s, so I did a little analysis to try to better understand the concept. A Google search for sustainable development returns 30.6 million websites, references and/or quotes posted on the Internet suggesting significant interest in all aspects of what constitutes ‘sustainable’. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines ‘sustainable’ as “…relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not exhausted or permanently damaged; … or related to a lifestyle that involves the use of sustainable methods…” The key phrase is ‘non-exhausted’, which I have indicated in bold. This was and remains the essence of sustainability that has produced a plethora of social economic movements, none as popular as sustainable development. Wikipedia [I’m not a fan of this web site, however it does serve a purpose in providing quick accounting of a subject] explains that sustainable development unites concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems; that is the carrying capacity of nature to support all life, that is, the natural capital and the human challenges of economic growth.
Starting in the 1970s, when the concept arose in reference to setting limits to developed growth, the term “sustainability” was and is used to conflate ecology and economic growth, with terms such as “limits to growth” and “economy Steady State” contributing to the environmental movement that brought about massive changes in building and zoning codes across the country in relation to economic development, particularly land development. The idea that we have unlimited resources to develop was challenged by the newer idea of limited resources that must be wisely developed in concert with nature, resulting in competing forces that have shaped our economic development for the last forty years. . Practitioners of sustainable development consider it to have three elements: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, and sociopolitical sustainability. Special groups on both sides of the spectrum have claimed this concept to perpetuate their own agendas. However, a common sense approach, in my opinion, has always been preferred, particularly when we are almost unanimously agreed in today’s world that there is a natural limit to resources that must be recognized. Having said that, I firmly believe that the free market has been and will continue to be the best place to allow the combination of economic development with sustainable development to take place.
An example of how the free market is used to achieve sustainability is the work pioneered by Dr. Brian Arthur of the Santa Fe Institute, who applied the natural principles of biology to the study of economics, particularly economic growth; which has become known as ‘The Santa Fe Approach’. Arthur was very interested in explaining how economic markets work, how businesses are formed, in terms of the natural world, and how the human organization, in order to grow, must adapt and assimilate to its environment, constantly adjusting to change. The ‘Santa Fe Approach’ was a leading concept that helped pave the way for a new field in economics called ‘ecological economics’. The concept of sustainable development has been further enriched by the new field of ecological economics popularized by Dr. Robert Costanza, who founded the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) and conducted much of the foundational research at the University from Maryland.
The goal of ecological economics is to ground economic thought and practice in physical reality, especially the laws of thermodynamics and biological systems. It accepts as a goal the improvement of human well-being through economic development, and seeks to ensure its achievement through planning for the sustainable development of ecosystems and societies. Ecological economics is distinguished from neoclassical economics primarily by the claim that economics is a subfield of ecology, in the sense that ecology deals with the energy and matter transactions of life and the Earth, and economics human life is, by definition, contained within this system. This system is defined as natural capital, which consists of all non-renewable resources such as oil, coal, gas and minerals, and renewable resources such as the ecosystems that make up the planet, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. It is about terms such as ‘carrying capacity’, which refers to nature’s ability to support human activities, and goes to the heart of what sustainable development is, and from which sustainable entrepreneurship emerged.
A recent white paper entitled “Sustainable Entrepreneurship in SMEs. Theory and Practice” by Evy Crals and Lode Vereeck, defined sustainable development as the ongoing commitment of companies to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce, their families, local communities, society and the world at large, as well as future generations. From sustainable development, according to this white paper, emerged the sustainable entrepreneurial spirit defined as the continuous commitment of companies to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce, their families, the local and global community, as well as the future. generations Okay then; sustainable entrepreneurship may be considering a more holistic approach to undertaking a business venture. But how does this relate to the true essence of entrepreneurship?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risk of a business or enterprise. We often use interchangeable businesses and companies to refer to the same thing. The word ‘entrepreneur’ comes from the French word ‘entrepreneur’, which means “to undertake”. In a business context it means undertaking a commercial enterprise. Typically, entrepreneurship and small business are used equally, interchangeably, and are presented as one in the same. Entrepreneurship actually differs from small business in four key ways: amount of wealth creation, speed of wealth accumulation, risk, and innovation. [Reference: See the Green$: Achieving Your Entrepreneurial Dream, LOGOS Press, January 2011.]
In the case of acceptable definitions of sustainable entrepreneurship, where reference is made to the common good, I would like to clarify that sustainable entrepreneurship cannot and should not be about establishing some kind of social common good, such as in a communal framework associated with planned economies. such as the former Soviet Union, East Germany, Cuba, Venezuela and the African socialist countries. It is an oxymoron to do so. Rather, the common good in a free market context is about job creation that produces disposable income that engenders increased demand for goods and services. This is then accompanied by a multiplier effect that allows a dollar to flow through the economy roughly 2 times or more, creating additional demand for goods and services, further increasing disposal revenue, resulting in increased corporate income for reinvestment. capital accumulation and business growth. This compounded economic activity produces increased state and federal personal and corporate income tax revenues, enabling infrastructure investment in public works such as roads, bridges, railroads, dams, and national lands such as parks, wetlands, chains mountains and the like.
Rather, in my opinion, sustainable entrepreneurship is the process of maintaining a level of business development to create a paradigm shift in economic activity, such as national GDP, job growth, capital investment, technological advancement and the quality of life is second to none, second to none and second to none. I realize this sounds a bit altruistic and sounds like utopian talk. But I’am not. We can and must strive through local, state, and national efforts to seek to establish an economic mindset that is strategically focused on entrepreneurship and authentic organic economic growth at the community level throughout America. We can and must embed the concept of sustainability into the consciousness of the free market and enable the entrepreneurial consumer, seeking wealth creation within a tremendous risk-reward environment, through sustained invention and innovation, to succeed. . Less can we forget that it was, has and will be business development that made our country great. We need a lot more of that now.