Balancing the blended value proposition of sustainability entrepreneurship: An exploratory case study of the relationship between institutions and sustainability entrepreneurship in the Tanzanian solar power industry

Ida Kirstein

Student thesis: Master thesis


This paper combines institutional and sustainability entrepreneurship literature in order to investigate the role of institutions for entrepreneurship ventures in the solar power industry in Tanzania. The goal is to understand how the complex relationship between the institutional environment and the ventures constrains or enables the activities of the entrepreneurship ventures towards balancing social, environmental and financial values, and thus their assumed contributions to sustainable development as described in the sustainability entrepreneurship literature. Based on critical realist philosophical assumptions, the study takes an exploratory approach to a multiple case study of five ventures operating with a blended value proposition incorporating social, environmental and financial values. The analysis compares and contrasts the institutional influences on the ventures, by applying a theoretical framework developed by combining institutional and sustainability entrepreneurship literature. It also identifies areas where the ventures influence institutions to make them more supportive. The results of the study show a complex relationship between institutions and entrepreneurial ventures. Two ventures were found to operate with a blended value proposition integrated into their organizational design similar to what is described as ‘whole enterprise design’ in the sustainability entrepreneurship literature. Three ventures were found to operate with a blended value proposition but not integrating all three value objectives equally into their organizational design. The study identifies both constraining and enabling mechanisms in the relationship between institutions and ventures, however the ventures described their institutional environment as overall supportive, with synergies found between institutions and operating with both social, environmental and financial objectives. Institutional voids were identified that constrained activity, but the ventures were found to adapt to these, fill them and even use them as opportunity. The study thus contributes to sustainability literature with a new perspective from a developing country context with findings that show that institutional environment is important to the way entrepreneurship ventures operate with sustainability value objectives, and that entrepreneurship under the right conditions can contribute to institutional and societal transformations.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages138