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Erwan Queinnec and Pierre Desrochers

Academic research has generated many theoretical and empirical insights into how entrepreneurial actions can help achieve more environmentally desirable outcomes. Much ambiguity remains, however, between the junction of sustainability, market processes and entrepreneurship. On the one hand, academic researchers acknowledge the existence of numerous ‘win-win’ opportunities (i.e., that have both economic and environmental benefits). On the other, many theorists view sustainability awareness as a precondition of ‘green’ entrepreneurship taking place in markets characterized by ubiquitous failures. In the latter perspective, sustainable entrepreneurship can hardly be expected to be a widespread outcome of ‘business-as-usual’ market processes. This chapter challenges this perspective through a case study of industrial waste recycling in the nineteenth century. Summarizing much evidence on the issue, we illustrate how in the past, numerous entrepreneurs, managers and technicians practised what many sustainable development theorists now recommend. We suggest that the most significant driver of this process was the very logic of economic competition – that is, the search for increased (or at least constant) profitability. While our contention questions some of the core assumptions of mainstream entrepreneurship studies and environmental economics, it also offers a more optimistic perspective on humanity’s capacity to simultaneously improve standards of living and remediate environmental harm.

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Pierre Desrochers and Samuli Leppälä

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Pierre Desrochers, Samuli Leppälä and Joanna Szurmak

The relationship between innovation and urban diversity has drawn much interest in the geography of innovation literature. While the concept of “Jacobs spillovers” suggests a positive relationship, its underlying processes have yet to be explained satisfactorily. This chapter builds on our previous theoretical and case study work and adds new insights from the creativity literature, which is less known among urban economic development analysts. The aim is to provide a more complete account of how human creativity is both stimulated and facilitated by a diverse urban environment.

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Pierre Desrochers, Frédéric Sautet and Gert-Jan Hospers

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Gert-Jan Hospers, Frédéric Sautet and Pierre Desrochers