Research Handbook of Finance and Sustainability
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Research Handbook of Finance and Sustainability

Edited by Sabri Boubaker, Douglas Cumming and Duc K. Nguyen

The severe consequences of the global financial crisis 2008-2009 and numerous accounting frauds and financial scandals over the last fifteen years have let to calls for more ethical and responsible actions in all economic activities including consumption, investing, governance and regulation. Despite the fact that ethics in business and corporate social responsibility rules have been adopted in various countries, more efforts have to be devoted to motivate and empower more actors to integrate ethical behavior and rules in making business and managerial decisions. The Research Handbook of Finance and Sustainability will provide the readers but particularly investors, managers, and policymakers with comprehensive coverage of the issues at the crossroads of finance, ethics and sustainable development as well as proposed solutions, while focusing on three different levels: corporations, investment funds, and financial markets.
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Chapter 9: Can entrepreneurship be sustainable without being sustainability-driven? Some historical perspective

Erwan Queinnec and Pierre Desrochers

Abstract

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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