Sustainable Entrepreneurship Systems and Supply Chain Management in Danish Startups: An Explorative Case Study about the Incorporation of Sustainability within Startups at Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship

Mathias Rolf Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this case study is to investigate how a theoretical understanding of sustainability has been incorporated into entrepreneurship and supply chain management by startups. The objective is to acquire an understanding of the intricateness and significance involved with startups’ relationship with adapting sustainability. Thus, evaluate how sustainability is incorporated within entrepreneurship and supply chain management of startups in Denmark, specifically startups at CSE (Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship). With the intention of contributing to future applications of sustainable entrepreneurship, sustainable supply chain management and sustainable systems within existing literature.
Based on an interprivist perspective and ontological assumptions, the study takes an explorative approach to a case study of six entrepreneurs and CEO’s of startups operating within CSE. These six startups are sorted into two groups, three classified as SOS (sustainably oriented startups) and three as NSOS (Non-sustainably oriented startups) to best differentiate and determine the interconnectedness of sustainability to different kinds of startups.
The findings distinctively depicts the influences of sustainability on existing entrepreneurs, by applying a conceptual framework generated through entrepreneurship, supply chain management, organizational systems theory and sustainability. The areas of improvements and inclusion are based on emerging patterns of: incorporating sustainability, which involves identifying, adapting and applying sustainability, and creating a sustainable system within a startup, which requires a structured, flexible and transparent supply chain management and internal organizational systems.
The results of the study display a complexity within the relationships of entrepreneurs, their startups and sustainability. SOSs and NSOSs display distinct variations with the identification of sustainability, but large similarities with the incorporation of it. The startups displayed a higher willingness to associate with SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), due to the risk of incorrectly associating with sustainability as an overall term. This study highlights that startups merely have to recognize the usability of sustainability by incorporating the term, without knowingly misusing it. However, not developing any sustainable considerations for a startup is considered worse. Sustainability continues to be incorporated into literature and business involvements, which is highlighted in the startups. For example, outdated SCM (Supply Chain Management) models are evolving into SSCM (Sustainable Supply Chain Management) models. Along with the development of existing business models follows the literature and the actions of companies. Startups identify with their own impact and vision, rather than applicably integrating sustainable structures and considerations, however, the mindsets entrepreneurs’ display has changed significantly, to become more transparent and adaptive towards sustainable attributes.

EducationsMSocSc in Strategic Design and Entrepreneurship, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages135
SupervisorsClaudia Eger