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How can ecopreneurship be promoted, and sustained, over time? A psychological emotions perspective

Wednesday 8 November 2017, 16.00-17.15
School of Earth and Environment seminar rooms 8.119
Fay Giaever, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Sustainability seminar hosted by SRI


Ecopreneurship has been defined as entrepreneurial activity related to environmental and sustainability issues, in the form of greening existing enterprises or engaging in green start-ups, in which the economic dimension is downplayed, but individual and ethical values are central (Gibbs, 2009; Hockerts & Wüstenhagen, 2010; Kirkwood and Walton, 2014). Examples of ecopreneurship can range from the development of biodegradable coffee cups, to developing new means for generating energy and energy efficiency and working to change patterns of living and consuming through the spreading of ideas such as minimalism and zero-waste. As the economy in which organizations are part is a major cause of numerous environmental problems (Cohen & Winn, 2007; Littig & Grießler, 2005) ecopreneurship represents an extremely important driver when it comes to effecting large scale environmental change because it contributes to creating a new business model, and markets, with the vision of sustainability at its core. We therefore need to stimulate to the growth of ecopreneurship, and make sure that existing ecopreneurs thrive in their job so that they continue in their career path over time in order to increase the likelihood of long-term success in effecting pro-environmental change.

It can be argued that emotions play a crucial role in ecopreneurship. Firstly, emotions are crucial when it comes to triggering ecopreneurship. There is for instance evidence that positive emotions are particularly important in determining a career choice in organisational greening (Kearins & Sharma, 2007; Kearins & Collins, 2012). Secondly, the development of emotional competencies (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) appear to be crucial in order to thrive in the job and to sustain ecopreneurial activities over time. This is following that ecopreneurs typically operate in a volatile emotional environment, characterized by climate change denial, hostility, resistance and apathy among some recipients (Stoknes, 2015; Wright & Nyberg, 2012; Wright, Nyberg & Grant, 2012, Nordgaard, 2006). In relation to this it has been reported that the experience of humility is key whereby ecopreneurs focus on the “little ways” in which their businesses make an environmental impact (Allen & Malin, 2008). Finally, following the emotional climate surrounding environmental issues, it also appears to be important for ecopreneurs to engage in appropriate emotional communication, in order to be successful (Wright & Nyberg, 2012; O’Neill & Nicholson-Cole, 2009). There is evidence that a leadership style whereby a positive emotional framework is displayed, and instilled in followers, is crucial when it comes to effecting pro-environmental change (Robertson & Barling, 2013; Graves, Sarkis & Zhu, 2013; Andersson & Bateman, 2000).

A planned research project that aims to provide greater insight into the emotional process of engaging in ecopreneurship, and ultimately to understand the ways in which ecopreneurship can be supported and enhanced, will be presented.


Fay Giæver is associate professor in organizational psychology at the department of Psychology, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Her research focuses mainly on the role played by emotions in organizations. She has been involved in research projects exploring issues such as organizational change, the adoption of arts-based methods, sickness absence/presence and work adjustment for employees with mental health issues. Recently, she has been interested in the ways in which pro-environmental behaviour can be promoted inside and outside of the organization, focusing particularly on the role played by emotions in ecopreneurship. She has worked closely with industrial partners throughout, and aims for her work to have practical, as well as scientific, impact.

Directions to the Venue

School of Earth and Environment Seminar Rooms (8.119). At the Earth and Environment Reception take the door on the right-hand side. The Seminar Rooms are immediately on the left.

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