Special Issue "Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Responsible Innovation"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Thomas B. Long
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Campus Fryslân, University of Groningen, Wirdumerdijk 34 8911 CE Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Interests: sustainable entrepreneurship; responsible innovation; sustainable business models; responsible business model innovation
Dr. Angela Greco
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Sustainable Entrepreneurship, University of Groningen, Wirdumerdijk 34 8911 CE Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
Ivey Business School, 1255 Western Road, London, Ontario, Canada
Interests: sustainable entrepreneurship; social and environmental strategies for enterprises; sustainable buildings; participatory design; design thinking

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainable entrepreneurship plays a key role in the development of innovations that are needed to solve grand challenges such as climate change or food security. Sustainable entrepreneurship is a dynamic process, involving the identification, creation, and exploitation of opportunities that can generate social and/or environmental value in addition to economic benefits (Dean and McMullen, 2007; Belz and Binder, 2017), followed by the development and diffusion of innovations into mass markets (Schaltegger and Wagner 2011). It is distinct from traditional forms of entrepreneurship, which focus primarily on economic outputs.

On the other hand, innovation, as a process or outcome, can be considered as the instrument through which entrepreneurship succeeds. From this perspective, responsible innovation—innovation oriented towards avoiding harm to people and the planet, doing good, and developing responsible governance procedures (Stilgoe et al., 2013; Voegtlin & Scherer, 2017) —offers a valuable lens to the study of sustainable entrepreneurship.

Although the notion of entrepreneurship is commonly utilized for nascent organizations, entrepreneurship and innovation are not confined to the initial stages of new venture creations (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000). Responsible innovation practices and sustainable entrepreneurship efforts are increasingly populating the organizational change literature, thus calling on researchers to differentiate overlaps and gaps.

Despite the separate tracks in which the fields of responsible innovation and sustainable entrepreneurship have matured in the past decade, they share many similarities in both research approach and theoretical underpinning. They both advocate theories to advance environmental and social impacts, and they often address the simultaneous or incremental implementation of sustainable development goals. Both fields also share methodological approaches which are in line with transdisciplinary research methods, considered important to address organizational questions of environmental integrity, economic prosperity, and social equity (Schaltegger et al., 2013; Shrivastava et al., 2013).

While both topics independently are well conceived, there has been little focus on how sustainable entrepreneurial processes interact with those of responsible innovation (Lubberink et al., 2017; Long et al., 2020ab). This Special Issue aspires to foster the cross-fertilization between these two similar yet distinctive fields.

This Special Issue welcomes both conceptual and empirical contributions on the theme of sustainable entrepreneurship and responsible innovation. Authors from a variety of disciplines are invited to submit papers. Transdisciplinary research that embraces the diversity of sustainability perspectives is particularly appreciated. Submissions could relate, but are not limited to the following topics:

  • How do sustainable entrepreneurs engage with the concept and practice of responsible innovation?
  • What examples exist of sustainable entrepreneurs practicing responsible innovation?
  • What challenges or barriers might sustainable entrepreneurs face while innovating in the context of existing organizations?
  • How can responsible innovation approaches enhance the sustainable entrepreneurial process?
  • How do sustainable entrepreneurs engage with and manage socio-ethical issues?
  • How do sustainable entrepreneurs deal with competing or irreconcilable demands in responsible innovation processes?
  • How does responsible innovation relate to the business model innovation processes undertaken by sustainable entrepreneurs?
  • To what extent can responsible innovation frameworks improve our understanding of entrepreneurial failure?
  • What methodological approaches are emerging to study responsible innovation and sustainable entrepreneurship which can advance both fields?
  • How is the quadruple helix framework effective at bridging responsible innovation and impactful academic research?

Dr. Thomas B. Long
Dr. Angela Greco
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Sustainable entrepreneurship
  • Responsible innovation
  • Sustainable innovation
  • Transdisciplinary research

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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