The New Field of Sustainable Entrepreneurship: Studying Entrepreneurial Action Linking “What Is to Be Sustained” With “What Is to Be Developed”


Dean A. Shepherd, tel.: 812-856-5220; e-mail:, to Holger Patzelt at


Informed by the sustainable development and entrepreneurship literatures we offer the following definition: Sustainable entrepreneurship is focused on the preservation of nature, life support, and community in the pursuit of perceived opportunities to bring into existence future products, processes, and services for gain, where gain is broadly construed to include economic and non-economic gains to individuals, the economy, and society. To illustrate the diversity of potential research avenues that will advance this field, we offer a research agenda derived from an economics, an institutional, and a psychology perspective. We suggest research questions exploring “what is to be sustained” and “what is to be developed” in sustainable entrepreneurship research.