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Policy for sustainable entrepreneurship: a crowdsourced framework

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Nielsen, KR 
Wilson, HN 
Macdonald, EK 
Mera, C 


Sustainable entrepreneurship can contribute to sustainable development by seeking synergies between social, environmental and economic outcomes, turning market failures into commercial opportunities. However, institutional conditions often act to obstruct sustainable entrepreneurs. While policy is instrumental in shaping conditions for entrepreneurship, how policy can best support sustainable ventures specifically is under-researched. This study uses a novel crowdsourcing approach with multiple actors in the sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem to explore how policy can create conditions conducive to sustainable entrepreneurship. An emergent multi-level policy framework outlines six mechanisms by which this may be achieved: resource prioritisation, competency building, sustainable market creation, networked sharing, collaborative replication, and impact valuation. These mechanisms enable three interconnected policy objectives: enterprise creation, system transformation, and impact reorientation. The study thereby makes four main contributions to literature on sustainable entrepreneurship and policy. First, it reveals the importance of a ‘meso-level’ of policy that supports the sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem, complementing micro-level supply-side and macro-level demand-side policies. Second, it proposes a policy focus not just on enterprises and how they are grown, but on sustainability-oriented innovations and how they are replicated. Third, it identifies the need for ‘impact re-orientation’ policies that track and optimise entrepreneurs' individual and collective triple-bottom-line impacts. Fourth, the study exemplifies a promising crowdsourcing method of co-creating policy.



Sustainable entrepreneurship, Policy, Sustainable transitions, Institutional conditions, Crowdsourcing, Policy entrepreneurship

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Journal of Cleaner Production

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Elsevier BV
The research reported in this paper has been funded by the European Commission within the FP7 EU-InnovatE project (, Grant Agreement no. 613194