Sustainable entrepreneurship for marine biodiversity conservation: making sense of the unfamiliar environment for the wider good

Thapa Karki, Shova and Ross, Iain (2019) Sustainable entrepreneurship for marine biodiversity conservation: making sense of the unfamiliar environment for the wider good. In: 8th Sustainability, Ethics & Entrepreneurship (SEE) Conference & Consortium, February 28th to March 3rd 2018, Miami, USA.

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The marine environment refers to the earth’s oceans, seas, estuaries and other major bodies. It is the most dynamic, varied and vital ecosystem on the planet, covering 72% of the earth’s surface, providing 90% of the habitable space on earth for over 300,000 species, and contributing $21 Trillion to human wealth, which is 60% of the total economic value of the earth biosphere. However, the degradation of the marine environment is reaching critical levels, requiring an urgent action to minimise the myriad of challenges it faces. Inadequate understanding and knowledge gaps of the marine environment and the overall functioning of ecosystems, lack of connectedness with people, and perception that it is an inexhaustible supply of resources and an unlimited capacity to absorb waste has contributed to the high level of degradation. The current methods of protection based on conservation such as, the formation of protected areas and extraction limits have been found to be inadequate not only in protecting the marine environment and but also the communities that depend on it. There is a growing recognition of entrepreneurship as a solution to environmental degradation and social inequality as has been seen in the context of social and sustainable entrepreneurship. There are many successful examples where sustainable entrepreneurs have used the market-based mechanism to meet the goal of sustainable development. But, how do the entrepreneurs get to know unfamiliar natural and complex ecosystems? How do they get embed themselves in such contexts for wider good? Focusing on the marine biodiversity conservation, this research aims to explore the mechanism sustainable entrepreneurs use to make sense of the unfamiliar environment and the way they engage stakeholders. Semi-structured interviews were employed to collect data from six sustainable ventures operating in the marine environment. Dissatisfaction with the current industry and frustration on the lack of concern and slow government response were key drivers for engaging in entrepreneurial activities and using a market-based mechanism to conserve the environment. While prior experience, skills and knowledge of the marine environment increased alertness and awareness of the entrepreneurs, the ‘real-life’ visceral experiences triggered the venture foundation decision. Driven to pursue the triple-bottom-line values, the entrepreneurs faced various challenges where they constantly had to experiment what they knew, consider inherent trade-off for growth, and educate the consumers to make a strong link with the marine environment. The findings contribute to the literature on sustainable entrepreneurship and highlights challenges associated with pursuing triple-bottom line values. While there is evidence that sustainable entrepreneurship can contribute to the conservation of the marine environment, the unique conditions and expert knowledge of the environment, the disconnection between customers and the natural environment, and the requirement of specific skills set limits the frequency of sustainable venture.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > Strategy and Marketing
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Depositing User: Shova Thapa Karki
Date Deposited: 30 May 2019 12:49
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2019 12:48
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