University of Edinburgh Business School
Seriously personal: The reasons that motivate entrepreneurs to address climate change
Kaesehage, Leyshon, Ferns and Leyshon. (2017) Journal of Business Ethics. 1-19.


Scholars increasingly argue that entrepreneurs and their small- and medium-sized enterprises should play a central role in reducing the rate and magnitude of climate change. However, evidence suggests that while some entrepreneurs recognize their crucial role in addressing climate change, most do not. Why some entrepreneurs nevertheless concern themselves with climate change has largely been overlooked. Some initial work in this area tentatively suggests that these entrepreneurs may engage with climate change because of their personal values, which either focus on financial or socio-ecological reasons, or a combination of both. Yet, it is unclear if all for-profit entrepreneurs engage with climate change for the same reasons, or if indeed their motivations vary across business types. Over a period of four years, we examined entrepreneurs’ motivations to engage with climate change through a variety of qualitative research methods. Our findings illustrate how entrepreneurs who address climate change have motivations specific to their business activity/industry and level of maturity. In each instance, we link these motivations to distinct conceptualizations of time and place. We contend that, through a more differentiated understanding of entrepreneurial motivations, policy-makers can draft climate change-related policies tailored to entrepreneurial needs. Policies could both increase the number of entrepreneurs who already engage in climate change mitigation and leverage the impact of those entrepreneurs already mitigating climate change.

Business School author

Dr Kathi Kaesehage, ECF - Climate Change and Business Strategy

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