Between System Hackers and Trojan Horses: How Entrepreneurs Drive Paradigmatic Change Towards a More Sustainable Economy
Abstract: To combat global challenges such as climate change or social inequalities, more and more voices are calling for a transformation of today's capitalist economies. However, without outlining how actors can enact change from within the current setting, visions of a fundamentally different and more sustainable economy may not become reality. The purpose of this study, therefore, lies in investigating how a societal transformation can be initiated and, in particular, what role pioneering entrepreneurs can play in driving paradigmatic change towards a more sustainable economy. To answer this question, this thesis integrates theory from institutional entrepreneurship and transition management, and conducts an exploratory study based on interviews with so-called post-capitalist entrepreneurs as well as politicians. The study finds that entrepreneurs can drive paradigmatic change through a recurring cycle of four transition management activities: envisioning paradigmatic change, developing innovations, diffusing them to change economic structures and evaluating progress. In doing so, entrepreneurs are constrained by current economic structures, but they leverage enabling factors such as intangible resources, superior skills or dedication to overcome these constraints. The findings suggest that for driving paradigmatic change, two types of entrepreneurs are needed: those driving the transformation with radical changes and those implementing incremental steps.
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