Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Sustainability (EIS)

Last changed: 02 June 2021

The research group’s general aim is to develop understanding of the interplay between entrepreneurial actions and the contexts in which they take place.

Recently context has been recognized as shaping entrepreneurship, but much less has been said about the interplay of context and how entrepreneurship may shape context. We see context in the broadest of terms. Context may be locational; context as space or place, local or national, or location in a socio-spatial or socio-economic milieu such as the rural. Alternatively context may be a social location; ethnic, class or gender. Cultures too, can form context and entrepreneurship can reform cultures as in the enterprise culture. We also envisage institutions as offering a contextual location. As we see it, each context brings specific values that inform both entrepreneurial process and outcomes. Indeed in some special cases, context may even create novel forms of enterprise.

We are interested in the interplay between entrepreneurship and context, for example the implications of embedding, or if not being embedded, processes and outcomes, or even about determining the best method for making these enquiries. Context can be foreground or background, but the focus is always the interplay and the dynamics.

Ongoing & recent projects:

  • Returnee entrepreneurs in rural communities
  • Growth & development in rural firms
  • Development of new ventures in farm businesses
  • Collaboration in farm-based biogas ventures
  • Entrepreneurship & branding in small-scale food businesses
  • Gendered value creation in rural enterprise

Please contact us if you want to know more about our projects!

Josefina Jonsson, Karin Hakelius, Erik Melin, Richard Ferguson, Gustav Broms, Hina Hashim, Annie Roos, Per-Anders Langendahl, Maria Tunberg, Hanna Astner and Johan Gaddefors

Teaching activities

Find out more about the courses here

Strategic management – 15 hp

Course leaders: Johan Gaddefors and Karin Hakelius

Ethics – 5 hp

Course leader:  Hanna Astner

Ekonomistyrning I (Introduction to Financial and Managerial Accounting) - 15 hp

Course leader: Richard Ferguson

Entreprenörskap och företagsutveckling - organisationsteori II (Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development - organization theory II) - 10 hp

Course leader: Richard Ferguson

Research Methods - Master Level - 10 hp

Course leader:  Richard Ferguson

Projects in entrepreneurship

Rural Keys

This project runs between 2017 and 2019 and is financed by från Familjen Kamprads Stiftelse. Besides the research groups the involved parties are Institutionen för stad och land, Robert Gordon University and three regions in Sweden, namely Gotland, Västmanland och Uppland. The aim with the project is develop new knowledge about the interaction between different forms of entrepreneurship and context and how their interaction is building a thriving countryside. Together with locals, local advisors and governments officials, and students will the project participants develop and run 30 development projects in nine different rural areas. In the project we hope to make visible different forms of entrepreneurship, understand how they interplay and contribute to a thriving countryside, systematize and develop methods for how different forms of entrepreneurship interacts with the countryside, build relationships at the sites and spread knowledge and ideas for actions to locals, local advisors and governments officials, students and researchers.

Returnee entrepreneurs in rural communities

The purpose of this project is to examine how returning entrepreneurs and local stakeholders are involved in co-producing an entrepreneurial region. A theoretical framework is proposed based on two metaphors; embeddedness and translation. Moreover, the value of the framework is illustrated by a case drawn from a study conducted over a number of a 3-year period. The work is based on a constructionist approach, and the results emerged from a narrative analysis. Our partial ethnographic methodology gives us the opportunity to follow the interaction between entrepreneurs and local stakeholders over time. The findings show what needs to become embedded to attain regional development is an entrepreneurial attitude to life in the region, not only the embeddedness of the returning entrepreneurs and their firms. Consequently, the framework results in a perspective emphasising the interplay over time between entrepreneurs and local stakeholders or the context. The project shows how the co-production of the entrepreneurial region between entrepreneurs and local stakeholders result in continued regional development.

Entrepreneurship and identity in rural settings

This project is about entrepreneurship in a depleted community. The purpose is to develop knowledge about how discourses are invoked in the positioning of identity in regional development. The concept positioning is used to illustrate and discuss how identities are provoked, challenged, negotiated and moved into identity positions that break away from  the idea of imitating successful and wealthy regions; instead, locality, place and history emerge as important resources from where local actors obtain agency and recognize  new opportunities. Ethnographic data of a single case were collected over a 6-year period between 2005 and 2010. The longitudinal nature of the study made it possible to incorporate how local stakeholders took on new identity positions, while handling their inspiration as well as their frustration. Results show how rural change is conditioned by discourses and how entrepreneurship challenge and reframe dominating structures through interaction between entrepreneurship and community. Four discourses, expressed as dichotomies available to people in this depleted community, illustrate the interactive process of positioning: change vs. traditions, rational vs. irrational, spectacular vs. mundane and individual vs. collective. Furthermore, the results support research emphasizing perspectives that acknowledge interaction between entrepreneurship and context as well as discursive aspects of regional development.

Farm-based biogas production

The aim in this research is to develop understanding of Swedish farmers' experiences in farm-based biogas production, including how they organize and collaborate in their local contexts; profitability, environmental impact and other created values; and how biogas ventures are developed interactively within an innovation system. Research to date is being conducted within two projects: Collaboration for improved profitability and environmental value in farm-based biogas production, with support from SLF; and Digestate as a valuable fertiliser in organic farming with value added for the environment and farm finances, a JTI project with financing from Formas.

Entrepreneurship & branding in new markets

The objective is to study and develop ideas on how brands are developed during the entrepreneurial processes when new markets are formed. What circumstances and conditions exist for the companies involved and what strategies are being used to manage these conditions? The empirical material builds on food companies who deliver dinner solutions to Swedish hoseholds.

Gendered value creation in rural enterprise

The project aims to link gender issues with rural entrepreneurship. The point of departure for the project is to develop theories of rural entrepreneurship from a gender perspective. The first project is about linking the research done on gender in the entrepreneurship field with the research done on gender in the rural field. A central issue in the project is how gender is "done" in rural entrepreneurial processes.

Social enterprise and the sanitation sector

The aim is of this project is to develop knowledge about how social enterprises, as market based organisations can provide basic services to the poor. The empirical focus is on a social enterprise providing a sanitation solution for inhabitants in an informal settlement in Kenya. The theoretical lenses of mental models, social networks, institutional logics and social shaping of technology are used to understand how appropriate sanitation technologies and services can be provided in contexts characterized by multiple stakeholder interests and complexity.


Please contact us if you want to know more about our projects!

Concluded projects

Growth & development in rural firms

The purpose of the project was to develop existing knowledge regarding entrepreneurship, firm growth, and rural development. Entrepreneurship was used as a theoretical lens in order to understand the interactive process where small businesses grow and the region change. Empirical data was gathered from food processing firms based on the Swedish countryside. The project resulted in a doctoral dissertation by Maria Tunberg: Rethinking small firm growth... while absorbing the processual

Titeln på avhandlingen blålänkad till Epsilon: https://pub.epsilon.slu.se/14524/


Development strategies in farm businesses: Specialization versus diversification

In this now completed project, we analyzed business growth through diversification versus specialization in farm enterprises in Sweden. Knowledge about factors influencing the choice of strategies for diversification and specialization is important if we are to successfully support the development of firms in rural areas towards long-term profitability. We aim to study how the development of diversified contra specialized farm enterprises is affected by access to resources, factors at the industry level, and personal factors of the farm managers, including education, ability, attitude, motivation, goals, age and gender. The project will primarily be based on quantitative methods. The project resulted in, as an example, the following two published articles:

Related pages: