The study seeks to explain how sustainable entrepreneurship occurs in a resource constrained setting. This is important as it improves our understanding of how entrepreneurs respond to adversity and develop opportunities that jointly address the social, environmental and economic dimensions of entrepreneurship.
Previous research has discussed the antecedents, outcomes and contextual conditions that drive sustainable entrepreneurship. However, what is absent from this growing research body is knowledge of the mechanisms through which individuals engage in this type of entrepreneurship.
The study seeks to answer the following research question: “How do individuals faced with resource constraints engage in sustainable entrepreneurship?” Using effectuation as a lens, a multi-method qualitative approach based on multiple case studies was adopted in this research and a mix of inductive and deductive analyses, also referred to as abductive analysis was employed. A sample of 5 sustainable enterprises were purposively selected in Uganda, located in sub-Saharan Africa.
The results show that resource constraints compel the entrepreneurs to seek expertise and resources from others with mutual goals while controlling expenses. In the process the entrepreneur learns and adapts to the emergent opportunity. The entrepreneur’s actions are further influenced by passion that sustains the activity in the face of challenges. In this research, sustainable entrepreneurship is further explicated showing that the social, economic and environmental objectives exist in a state of shifting, supportive interaction of one another.
The study clarifies our understanding of how entrepreneurs cope with inadequate resources. It explains the mechanisms through which individuals contending with resource constraints employ control as opposed to prediction strategies to exploit entrepreneurship opportunities. In this way the study contributes to the literature by proposing the fusion of cognitive and affective dimensions in realizing sustainable entrepreneurship goals. The study further suggests that the multiple objectives that typify the pursuits of sustainable entrepreneurs serve as supportive mechanisms and this puts into question arguments that these firms face comparatively larger challenges than those that singularly pursue economic objectives.