Sustainability in start-up ventures: what founders say versus what they do

Galpin, T.J and Hebard, J (2015) Sustainability in start-up ventures: what founders say versus what they do. World Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, 11 (4). pp. 246-255.

Abstract

Purpose

– Although founders of start-up ventures seem to hold similar views about ethical, social, and environmental principles as those in large firms, entrepreneurs tend to be focussed on their immediate stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, and investors. The purpose of this paper is to compare founders’ views – “what they say” – about sustainable business practices to their described business models – “what they do.”

Design/methodology/approach
– An opinion survey of prospective business start-up founders, along with a content analysis of their business plans, is used to compare founders’ views – “what they say” – about sustainable business practices to their described business models – “what they do.”

Findings
– Findings suggest that prospective business founders do value sustainable business practices. However, the content of their business models does not reflect their espoused importance of sustainability.

Research limitations/implications
– The main limitation of this study is that university students in a business-planning course were used as surrogates for actual start-up venture founders. That being the case, a small percentage (just under 5 percent) of the students indicated at the end of the course that they would like to continue pursuing the venture they helped develop a business plan for. To address this, future research should focus on actual founders of new ventures.

Practical implications
– The content analysis of the business plans revealed a marked disconnect between the high-value founders reported to place on sustainability and the actual limited inclusion of sustainability in their business models. Therefore, more work needs to be done to educate, encourage, and coach start-up founders to raise their awareness of and desire to include sustainability as key parts of their business models.

Originality/value
– To date, no studies have attempted to compare start-up venture founders’ views – “what they say” – about sustainable business practices to their described business models – “what they do.”

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Sustainability, Entrepreneurship, Start-up, Founders, Strategy
Subject(s): Strategy
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2017 12:09
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2017 12:09
Funders: N/A
URI: http://eureka.sbs.ox.ac.uk/id/eprint/6499

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