Teaching tigers to dance?: Evaluating the role of enterprise policies in purposive sustainability transitions

Blundel, Richard and Monaghan, Adrian (2011). Teaching tigers to dance?: Evaluating the role of enterprise policies in purposive sustainability transitions. In: 2nd International Conference on Sustainability Transitions: Diversity, Plurality and Change: Breaking New Grounds in Sustainablility Transition Research, 13-15 Jun 2011, Lund University, Sweden.

URL: http://www.ist2011.nu/index.html

Abstract

Introduction: entrepreneurial activity and purposive transitions:
Our paper builds on work presented to the KSI Network in June 2009, which challenged preconceptions about the nature of entrepreneurial agency with a particular focus on its role in purposive sustainability transitions[1]. In this paper, we build on these themes and draw out the implications for SME and entrepreneurship policies in Europe. The remainder of the paper is divided into three
sections.

Enterprise policies and sustainability:
This section comprises a critical review of recent policy developments, with selected case-based illustrations that involve various kinds of purposive sustainability transition (e.g. Agterbosch and Breukers 2008). It concludes with a brief reflection on the main similarities and differences across Europe. For example, while cross-national agreements, such as EU-ETS and the European Small
Business Act, provide overarching frameworks, there is considerable variety in the array of enterprise
policies (e.g. goals, approaches, target audiences, performance), which overlay, and interact with, preexisting
geographic variations in entrepreneurial activity.

Extending enterprise policy:
Traditionally, enterprise policies have been framed and evaluated with a primary focus on economic criteria, such as job creation and economic growth. This section considers the main challenges in refocusing policy around more ambitious and multi-faceted sustainability goals. For example: evidence on the long-term outcomes of previous policy initiatives are mixed, whether at firm-level or
across geographic regions; there are difficulties in isolating the impact of particular policies even when
relevant statistical measures and datasets (e.g. for unemployment and GDP) are generally available; and policies are now being developed in a much wider range of contexts, including newlyindustrialised and developing countries.

Concluding remarks:
This section reflects on the preceding discussion and provides an outline research agenda for the transitions community, capable of integrating the literatures on entrepreneurship and enterprise policy, and relating them to purposive sustainability transitions.

References:
Agterbosch, S. and Breukers, S. (2008) ‘Socio-political embedding of onshore wind power in the Netherlands and North Rhine-Westphalia.' Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 20, 5: 633-648.

Notes:
[1] We observed previously that: (i) there is a groundswell of entrepreneurial activity oriented towards environmental sustainability; (ii) many governments have recognised that entrepreneurs can be key actors in the design and delivery of sustainability initiatives; (iii) transitions scholars have already highlighted many specific instances of entrepreneurial agency; (iv) there is now an urgent requirement to consolidate and build on this evidence base, in order to draw out practical implications for enterprise

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