Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Paula Kyrö
Chapter 1: To grow or not to grow? Entrepreneurship and sustainable development
Growth and its connection with the success of the economy and welfare have been taken for granted throughout the history of industrialization. The main question has been how to grow (e.g. Thurik and Wenekers, 1999). In the modern era this dialogue has taken place between large firms and society. In science this story can be identified in the dialogue between economics and sociology. The role of economics has been to ensure continuous growth in the private sector. Sociology on its own behalf has represented society and has focused on looking after either the side-effects produced by continuous growth or the infrastructure needed for growth (Kyro, 1999). Its main concerns included employment and equal income distribution. In this dialogue the impact of entrepreneurship and small firms has not been valued. When we arrived at the postmodern transition and noticed that large firms were not creating work for citizens, the dialogue between growth and welfare also turned to include small firms. The ideal of growth were applied and are about to be applied to small firms. In this process the question is not raised, either in the mainstream of economics or even in the paradigms of entrepreneurship, as to whether that growth is desirable or not, even though we have empirical evidence all around us of its destructive consequences. The question, to grow or not to grow, has thus arisen from a different direction.