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Rethinking green entrepreneurship - fluid narratives of the green economy

O’Neill, Kirstie; O'Neill, Kirstie; Gibbs, David


Kirstie O’Neill

Kirstie O'Neill

David Gibbs


Green entrepreneurs have been seen as key drivers for a transition to a green economy. However, there has been limited in-depth qualitative empirical research with green entrepreneurs to date, focusing instead on typologies categorising certain ‘types’ of green entrepreneur. Moreover, the literature rarely situates such individual activities within broader concepts such as the green economy. In contrast, we suggest that current discourses of the green economy are important in contextualising the ways that green entrepreneurs make sense of themselves and their businesses. Green entrepreneurs are thus negotiating varying tensions between their business activities, environmental philosophies, and wider contexts at the intersection between the green economy and the mainstream economy. Drawing on evidence from 55 interviews, we explore the narratives employed by green entrepreneurs to situate themselves within/outwith the wider green economy – the recursive framing of mainstream and niche ‘green’ activities provides a sense of the tensions and politics at play in the development of the green economy. We thus offer a new and more dynamic view of the evolving nature of ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ a green entrepreneur, rather than relying on the fixed categories espoused in previous typologies. We conclude that it is important that policy makers recognise the complex and contentious nature of green entrepreneurship, and that it is essential to view the green economy as a diverse constellation of myriad actors rather than corporate reinventions of business as usual.


O'Neill, K., & Gibbs, D. (2016). Rethinking green entrepreneurship - fluid narratives of the green economy. Environment & planning. A, 48(9), 1727-1749.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 25, 2016
Online Publication Date May 22, 2016
Publication Date Sep 1, 2016
Deposit Date May 6, 2016
Publicly Available Date May 22, 2016
Journal Environment and planning A
Print ISSN 0308-518X
Electronic ISSN 1472-3409
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 9
Pages 1727-1749
Keywords Green economy, Green entrepreneurs, Green building, UK
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Authors' accepted manuscript of article published in: Environment and planning A, 2016, v.48 issue 9.


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