Handbook of Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development Research
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Handbook of Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development Research

Edited by Paula Kyrö

Allying and expanding the diverse fields of entrepreneurship and sustainable development research is a modern day imperative. This Handbook paints an illuminating picture of the historic and current understanding of the bond between entrepreneurship and sustainable development. The authors explore the basic contradictions between the two fields and outline the transformative role entrepreneurship can play in achieving sustainable development. More than 50 expert researchers and their research communities from 16 countries across Europe, Africa, Australia, North America, and the Middle East provide original and informative contributions on a variety of issues, from women’s empowerment to climate change and organic farmers to ecotourism.
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Chapter 7: Recognizing first-person opportunities for sustainable development

Benedetto Cannatelli, Laura Maria Ferri, Matteo Pedrini and Mario Molteni


Opportunity recognition has been acknowledged as one of the most relevant topics in the entrepreneurial process. Specifically, entrepreneurial opportunities are defined as ‘situations in which new goods, services, raw materials, and organizing methods can be introduced and sold at greater than their costs of production’ (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000: 220). Opportunity recognition acts as a trigger for the entire entrepreneurial process by uncovering a prospective pattern for the entrepreneurial initiative (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000; McMullen and Shepherd, 2006; Baron, 2006). Although this topic has been widely explored within the traditional entrepreneurship domain, the adaptability of opportunity recognition to new forms of entrepreneurial initiatives – such as entrepreneurship for sustainable development – has been overlooked. Sustainable development (which includes preservation of the ecosystem, reduction of degradation and deforestation) has been acknowledged as a priority at all latitudes by the global community (WCED, 1987; Hall et al., 2010). Within this urgency, entrepreneurship has been advocated by a number of scholars as a key element for counteracting negative social and environmental trends (Brown, 2006; Homer-Dixon, 2006; Lovins et al., 2004; Vaitheeswaran, 2003). The emergence of entrepreneurial initiatives aimed at addressing long-standing social and environmental issues has been attracting the attention of scholars in the entrepreneurship field (Hall et al., 2010; Parrish, 2010; York and Venkataraman, 2010). The simultaneous pursuit of economic, social and environmental goals enhances the complexity of the opportunity recognition process by including new variables in the original model.

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