The Entrepreneurial Role in a Post-growth Economy

Thea Martine Svit

Student thesis: Master thesis


Entrepreneurs have for a long time been celebrated in economic theory and by society for their roles as saviours in an economy influenced by many social and environmental challenges. Recently, this has been criticized by scholars within the fields of both social sciences and natural sciences, as the economic rationale in which the entrepreneurial role is grounded, is argued as incompatible with real sustainable change. This paper examines how entrepreneurship, as understood and enacted by entrepreneurs, relates to a post-growth economy in which societal well-being is decoupled from economic growth. To answer the research question, a qualitative methodological approach is applied in the data collection, where interviews with sustainable entrepreneurs and relevant actors in the entrepreneurial system, constitute the foundation for analysis. The analysis provides an insight into some inherent incompatibilities between the entrepreneurial role in practice and post-growth economies as theorized in literature. Attention is especially drawn towards dissimilar ideas of autonomy in entrepreneurship and post-growth economies, the role of individuality in neo-liberal societies, and the state as influential in the predominant tendency among entrepreneurs to organize for growth. The paper discusses openings for change in how socio-economic transformations are described in post-growth literature, in which it advocates for more processual and tangible descriptions that reflect the lived realities of entrepreneurs and the system in which they exist. Finally, the paper offers a re-conceptualization of the entrepreneurial role that accommodates the principles of a post-growth economy, while also considering entrepreneurs’ motivations for becoming self-employed.

EducationsMSocSc in Strategic Design and Entrepreneurship, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2022
Number of pages78
SupervisorsBirke Otto