Factors Affecting Entrepreneurship
and Business Sustainability
Ana Tur-Porcar 1,*ID , Norat Roig-Tierno 2,3 and Anna Llorca Mestre 4
1Department of Basic Psychology, Universitat de València, 46021 València, Spain
2Business Department, ESIC Business & Marketing School, 46021 Valencia, Spain; email@example.com
3Economics and Social Science Department, Universitat Politècnica de València, 46022 Valencia, Spain
4Département of Basic Psychology, Universitat de València, 46021 València, Spain; firstname.lastname@example.org
*Correspondence: email@example.com; Tel.: +34-963-864-562
Received: 17 December 2017; Accepted: 6 February 2018; Published: 9 February 2018
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for society, and the creation of business
ventures is one area where sustainability is critical. We examined the factors affecting actions that
are designed to foster business sustainability. These factors are related to the environment, behavior,
human relations, and business activity. Based on questionnaire responses from experts, the Analytic
Hierarchy Process (AHP) method was used to rank sustainable business criteria according to
their importance for entrepreneurs starting sustainable businesses. The results indicate that the
most important drivers of sustainable entrepreneurship are behavioral factors and business factors.
Ethical principles and values, together with competitive intelligence, are crucial for undertaking
actions that lead to sustainability.
Keywords: entrepreneurship; sustainability; behavior; environment; human relations
People in today’s society are increasingly aware of the need for actions that foster entrepreneurship
while ensuring environmental sustainability. In recent years, scholars have conducted research into
sustainable entrepreneurship, although the debate is ongoing [
]. Sustainable entrepreneurship
consists of entrepreneurial actions to improve the environment and advance social wellbeing, but also
generate proﬁts. Accordingly, the goal is to initiate actions and processes that develop proﬁtable
opportunities and contribute to sustainable development [
]. Sustainable entrepreneurship can thereby
catalyze structural socioeconomic transformations .
Until now, the analysis has essentially focused on either one of two groups of factors: The ﬁrst
consists of entrepreneurial, economic, and social factors [
], while the second consists of cognitive
elements, values, attitudes, and motivations [
]. In contrast, this study employed a broader scope
that spanned entrepreneurial, economic, and social factors as well as psychological, motivational,
and emotional factors. The goal of this study was to identify the factors affecting sustainable
entrepreneurship. We considered factors that relate to the environment, business activity, human
relations, and entrepreneurial behavior from a perspective of sustainability.
Entrepreneurship is deﬁned as the process of employing market-based methods to pursue business
objectives and achieve speciﬁc social or ﬁnancial goals [
]. Certain conditions or entrepreneurial
characteristics help entrepreneurs take innovative actions that advance their initial position, allow them
to exploit new opportunities [
] and support their decision-making processes [
thus jointly consider economic, social, and environmental goals (for further details, see .)
The goal of this study was to analyze the factors that, according to the views of experts in
entrepreneurship, are closely linked to actions designed to foster business sustainability. Sustainability
Sustainability 2018,10, 452; doi:10.3390/su10020452 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2018,10, 452 2 of 12
refers to the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs [
]. Hence, organizational sustainability refers to the ability
of an organization to contribute to sustainable development, while offering economic, social,
and environmental beneﬁts .
In this study, we sought to identify the factors that help entrepreneurs manage their business
ventures in a sustainable manner. As mentioned earlier, the current debate focuses either on economic,
business, or social factors [
] or on behavioral, psychological, or motivational factors [
]. To the
best of our knowledge, the different types of factors that might relate to sustainable entrepreneurship
have never been studied jointly, nor have these factors been ranked to determine which environmental,
economic, business, human relations, or behavioral factors actually have the greatest effect on
sustainable entrepreneurship. Therefore, consistent with prior research, we studied factors that relate
to the following areas: environment (sustainability, social awareness, policies, and environmental
regulations), behavior (motivation, altruism, compassion, empathy, ethics, cognition, self-regulation,
self-efﬁcacy, and competitive intelligence), human relations (reputation, congruence, and leadership),
and business dynamics (proﬁts, job satisfaction, business management, and access to subsidies).
The empirical study used the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), a qualitative analysis technique
that draws on the views of experts (in this case, experts in entrepreneurship). This method is
based on a hierarchical design and on the evaluation of the primary factors that, according to the
empirical evidence, inﬂuence sustainable entrepreneurship. The AHP technique is “a theory of
measurement through pairwise comparisons and relies on the judgments of experts to derive priority
]. This study was based on a small sample, which limits the generalization of our ﬁndings.
However, the AHP-based approach used in this study is a subjective method that enables the collection
and analysis of data from small groups of experts .
2. Conceptual Framework: Factors That Foster Sustainable Entrepreneurship
2.1. Environmental and Business Factors
Prior research establishes a comprehensive perspective of organizational sustainability that
covers three dimensions: economic prosperity, environmental integrity, and social sustainability [
Economic prosperity refers to both ﬁnancial strength and the existence of differentiation through
various pathways (e.g., price, high-quality products, and services). Environmental integrity refers to
environmental protection, which is necessary to safeguard the environment and protect the needs
of future generations. Finally, social sustainability alludes to the processes that ensure the social
health and wellbeing of the members of an organization [
]. Thus, sustainable entrepreneurship is a
multidimensional concept that encompasses economic factors (proﬁts and product competitiveness),
factors related to the preservation of the environment and surroundings, and social factors, which refer
to the protection of people’s health and wellbeing. At the same time, through its goal of improving the
environment and advancing social wellbeing, sustainable entrepreneurship can also effect structural
social transformations and promote sustainable technologies associated with these sustainable
]. These outcomes have been reported in, for example, Spain [
], Finland and
], and the US [
]. Sustainable entrepreneurship can thus provide a social and economic
solution for transforming and steering entrepreneurial initiatives toward sustainability. This reﬂects
the importance of sustainable entrepreneurship and the need to identify the factors that encourage
Patzelt and Shephard’s model [
] complements this conceptualization of sustainable entrepreneurship.
The model posits that knowledge and motivation foster entrepreneurship to yield personal beneﬁts
and provide altruistic beneﬁts to others. For entrepreneurs to do so, they require prior knowledge of
the market, the way it works, the problems derived from organizational dynamics, customers, and so
forth. Thus, entrepreneurship and sustainability aim to use human and natural resources to improve
service quality for as long as possible. This process provides personal satisfaction that encourages the
Sustainability 2018,10, 452 3 of 12
actions required to achieve speciﬁc goals—that is, so that the outcome is satisfactory and meets the
desired criteria [
]. While altruism, empathy, compassion, and ethics form the basis of sustainable
], economic proﬁts are also important. Sustainable entrepreneurship can result
from proﬁts that are derived from market opportunities, which increase economic proﬁts, or from
sustainability itself. If sustainability is what drives entrepreneurship, the company’s proﬁtability will
itself contribute to sustainability .
In this study, we considered the environmental and business factors that may drive sustainable
entrepreneurship. The goal was to establish a hierarchy of these factors. First, factors related to
the environment were grouped into the following categories: environmental sustainability, social
environmental awareness, policies, and environmental regulations. Environmental sustainability refers
to resource efficiency and the capacity of the environment to endure human manipulation [
Social environmental awareness is derived from education, which takes place within society, to raise
awareness of the effects of environmental damage and environmental education [
]. Policies include
institutional and organizational initiatives designed to promote entrepreneurship. Finally, environmental
regulations ensure compliance with the pertinent legislation. Second, the following business factors
were considered: profit, which refers to the profits that are generated by the economic activity [
job satisfaction, which refers to an individual’s degree of satisfaction with the work environment and
encompasses pay, type of work, and job security [
]; efficient business management, which refers to the
planning, organization, management, and control of the organization’s resources to maximize economic
profit and social benefit [
]; and access to subsidies, which refers to the receipt of subsidies, assistance,
and consultancy services from public or private institutions.
2.2. Behavioral and Human Relations Factors
Based on prior research, the behavioral and human relations factors affecting sustainable
entrepreneurship can be grouped into three categories: cognitive and motivational factors, values and
ethics, and emotional factors.
Regarding personal traits and behavior, social cognitive theory conceives individuals as agents
and active contributors to the development of the circumstances that surround their lives [
Rooted in this belief are motivation and the feeling of self-efﬁcacy, which can regulate human
functioning through cognitive, motivational, emotional, and decisional processes [
]. From this
perspective, entrepreneurial individuals have certain characteristics that help them initiate and carry
out innovative actions. Entrepreneurial individuals have entrepreneurial motivations, which relate
to discoveries and the exploitation of opportunities through effective actions [
]. They also have
the necessary human capital to acquire and transform information [
]. Thus, motivations are
fundamental for the transformation of entrepreneurial intentions into entrepreneurial actions [
Moreover, entrepreneurial individuals have a heightened sense of self-efﬁcacy, believe in themselves,
feel capable of achieving their goals, attribute the cause of their successes or failures to themselves [
and tend to be proactive, autonomous, and risk tolerant [
]. Proactive entrepreneurs are concerned
about market imperfections; therefore, they actively support institutional initiatives that aim to foster
sustainable practices .
The belief in fostering sustainability is closely linked to individual values and ethics. These two
factors play a key role in the development of behaviors and the way in which sustainable
actions are undertaken. Values allude to higher-order social cognitions that govern the way that
individuals behave [
]. Values tend to be individual and internalized, in accordance with society
and culture. The way in which people behave tends to be consistent with their personal values.
Thus, these behaviors gradually become social norms. These social norms, together with governmental
incentives targeting sustainability, facilitate sustainable entrepreneurship [
]. Research shows that
sustainable entrepreneurship is highly inﬂuenced by society and culture .
Similarly, emotions play a key role in inﬂuencing entrepreneurial individuals and business
activities. The ability to cope with failure is related to positive emotions (e.g., affect, happiness,
Sustainability 2018,10, 452 4 of 12
and enthusiasm). These positive emotions help individuals recover from setbacks by steering the
venture along a more successful path and redoubling their efforts [
]. Emotional intelligence and
emotional self-regulation are also present in this context. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to
control one’s own emotions, differentiate them from the emotions of others, and use information to
shape one’s thinking and actions [
]. Thus, emotional intelligence is associated with entrepreneurial
creativity and vision, the mission of the business organization, and entrepreneurial innovation [
Emotional self-regulation refers to the processes whereby people manage their emotional states.
Through these processes, people can inﬂuence which emotions they experience, how and when they
experience them, and how they express them [
]. Scholars have shown the importance of emotional
self-regulation in entrepreneurial processes, in which entrepreneurs must react to a series of setbacks
that can potentially prove off-putting .
3. The Present Study
In light of previous ﬁndings regarding the connection between behavioral and human relations
], we placed these factors into a single group. Behavioral factors consisted of metacognition,
motivation, and lifestyle. Metacognition is deﬁned as the capacity to reﬂect upon one’s thought
processes and the way in which one learns [
]. Metacognition consists of emotional self-regulation,
which is a process whereby people manage their positive or negative emotional state (e.g., happiness,
anger, or fear) [
]; self-efﬁcacy, which is the belief in one’s ability to perform entrepreneurial
]; and competitive intelligence, which helps the organization establish itself in the market,
increase competitiveness, and take ethical actions [
]. Competitive intelligence was considered
because an organization requires this ability to proactively decode competitive forces to grow
]. Motivation is deﬁned as the motives that encourage a person to act or do something,
increasing the drive to achieve speciﬁc goals [
]. Motivation consists of several kinds of motivation.
Prosocial motivation and values reﬂect the desire to help, favor, and connect with others [
Intrinsic motivation refers to the psychological processes that drive action or the internal desire
to strive to achieve one’s goals [
]. Extrinsic motivation is the desire to devote one’s efforts to
achieving outcomes that are external to work tasks themselves (e.g., reward or recognition). Flow is
the state in which people are completely absorbed in their work and receive intense enjoyment from
]. Finally, lifestyle refers to the manner in which an individual understands and lives his or her
life. Lifestyle consists of altruism, which refers to concern for others (as opposed to selﬁshness) and
the tendency to seek the best outcome for others [
]; compassion, which is both the feeling of sadness
that arises when another suffers, driving people to alleviate this pain, and the emotional bond that ties
an individual to a community [
]; empathy toward sustainability, which is the ability to establish an
emotional bond with a group of people and the environment [
]; and ethics, which is the set of values,
rules, and customs that govern the behavior of individuals within a community .
Human relations factors concern the channels though which people relate to one another.
Human relations span the relationships between individuals who are close to the entrepreneur and
individuals in the broader context of society. Human relations factors refer to developing a good
reputation among others who are close to the entrepreneur and among people in general; ensuring
congruence between business goals and building trustful relationships with workers; and combining
individual and shared leadership. This form of leadership is considered an interactive process.
The leader individually motivates others by effectively carrying out tasks, while combining this form
of leadership with an interactive, dynamic process whereby people encourage one another to achieve
group and organizational goals, which can inspire members to act entrepreneurially [16,28].
The goal of this study was to identify the factors that help entrepreneurs manage their
entrepreneurial ventures in a sustainable manner. As discussed earlier, research on this topic has
typically analyzed economic, business, and social factors separately from human relations and
behavioral factors driving sustainable entrepreneurship [
]. To reconcile these two approaches,
we studied factors that relate to the following areas: the environment (sustainability, social awareness,
Sustainability 2018,10, 452 5 of 12
policies, and environmental regulations), business dynamics (proﬁt, job satisfaction, business
management, and access to subsidies), behavior (motivation, altruism, compassion, empathy, ethics,
cognition, self-regulation, self-efﬁcacy, and competitive intelligence), and human relations (reputation,
congruence, and leadership) (Figure 1). The empirical study used the AHP, a qualitative analysis
technique that draws on the views of experts.
In response to prior research on sustainable entrepreneurship, we considered environmental and
business factors as well as behavioral and human relations factors. The goal was to identify the key
factors to foster sustainable entrepreneurship. The environmental factors that we considered were
environmental sustainability, social awareness, policies, and environmental regulations. Environmental
sustainability was deﬁned as resource efﬁciency and the capacity of the environment to endure human
]. The business factors that we considered were proﬁt, job satisfaction, efﬁcient
business management, and access to subsidies [5,20,25,26].
Figure 1shows the hierarchical structure of the characteristics that were examined in this study.
These characteristics, which could potentially affect entrepreneurial sustainability, were gathered from
a careful review of the pertinent scientiﬁc literature.
Sustainability 2018, 9, x FOR PEER REVIEW 5 of 12
In response to prior research on sustainable entrepreneurship, we considered environmental
and business factors as well as behavioral and human relations factors. The goal was to identify the
key factors to foster sustainable entrepreneurship. The environmental factors that we considered
were environmental sustainability, social awareness, policies, and environmental regulations.
Environmental sustainability was defined as resource efficiency and the capacity of the environment
to endure human manipulation . The business factors that we considered were profit, job
satisfaction, efficient business management, and access to subsidies [5,20,25,26].
Figure 1 shows the hierarchical structure of the characteristics that were examined in this study.
These characteristics, which could potentially affect entrepreneurial sustainability, were gathered
from a careful review of the pertinent scientific literature.
Figure 1. Factors affecting entrepreneurial sustainability.
4. Materials and Method
Vaidya and Kumar  cite applications of the AHP in numerous scientific areas, including
education, politics, and industry. In recent years, the number of applications has spread to
sustainability, knowledge, and marketing [48–51].
According to Vargas , the AHP focuses on two aspects: hierarchical design and evaluation.
In this study, we focused on the hierarchical design of the key factors that influence entrepreneurial
sustainability. The steps that must be followed to apply the AHP were defined by Saaty [18,53,54]. A
summary of these steps is as follows: (i) define the problem or goal; (ii) create the hierarchical decision
tree; (iii) construct the pairwise comparison matrices; and (iv) use the evaluations to weight certain
criteria and analyze overall importance.
In this study, we adopted the pairwise comparison scale designed by Saaty [18,53] to determine
the preference of each criterion. This scale determines the number of times an element is more
important than the other elements with which it is compared. The scale ranges from 1 to 9, where 1
Figure 1. Factors affecting entrepreneurial sustainability.
4. Materials and Method
Vaidya and Kumar [
] cite applications of the AHP in numerous scientiﬁc areas, including
education, politics, and industry. In recent years, the number of applications has spread to sustainability,
knowledge, and marketing [48–51].
According to Vargas [
], the AHP focuses on two aspects: hierarchical design and evaluation.
In this study, we focused on the hierarchical design of the key factors that inﬂuence entrepreneurial
sustainability. The steps that must be followed to apply the AHP were deﬁned by Saaty [
A summary of these steps is as follows: (i) deﬁne the problem or goal; (ii) create the hierarchical
Sustainability 2018,10, 452 6 of 12
decision tree; (iii) construct the pairwise comparison matrices; and (iv) use the evaluations to weight
certain criteria and analyze overall importance.
In this study, we adopted the pairwise comparison scale designed by Saaty [
] to determine the
preference of each criterion. This scale determines the number of times an element is more important
than the other elements with which it is compared. The scale ranges from 1 to 9, where 1 indicates
that the criteria are equally important, 3 indicates moderate importance, 5 indicates strong importance,
7 indicates very strong importance, and 9 indicates that the importance of one of the elements is far
greater than the importance of the other. The values 2, 4, 6, and 8 are intermediate values.
Pairwise comparison works as follows: each of the experts is asked about the relative importance
of each variable when compared with other variables within the same construct. By way of an example,
let us consider the comparison between altruism and ethics within the lifestyle construct. The expert
decides that the importance of the ethics criterion is very strong when compared with the altruism
criterion. Therefore, the value assigned to this comparison is 7. The score in the opposite case would
be 1/7. Once all elements have been compared, the judgment matrix is formed. Table 1shows the
evaluations by one expert for the level 3 lifestyle subcriteria. Finally, the comparison matrices of all
experts are aggregated to yield the relative weights of the variables.
Table 1. A pairwise comparison matrix for one expert.
Altruism Compassion Empathy Ethics Relative Weight
Altruism 1 1 1/8 1/7 0.0582
1 1 1/8 1/6 0.0603
Empathy 8 8 1 2 0.5388
Ethics 7 6 1/2 1 0.3427
Consistency Ratio Value = 1.18%
This study was based on a small sample, which limits the generalizability of the results. However,
the AHP-based approach used in this study is a subjective methodology that permits the collection
and analysis of data from small groups of experts [
]. Applications of AHP with small samples have
been presented in prior research. For example, Cheng and Li [
] invited nine construction experts
to undertake a survey to test the comparability of critical success factors for construction partnering.
Lam and Zhao [
] invited eight experts to take a quality-of-teaching survey. Castrogiovanni, Ribeiro,
Mas, and Roig [
] invited seven experts to assess the adaptation of knowledge management to
ﬁnancial institutions. In our study, 10 completed questionnaires were received. Nine questionnaires
had acceptable consistency and were included in the analysis.
We enlisted the help of experts from different fields to perform the evaluation [
]. We selected
nine experts from three distinct professional areas: academia, business, and government. The academic
experts conduct research into entrepreneurship and innovation at prestigious international
universities. The business experts run innovative businesses (Small and Mediaum Entreprises—SMEs).
The government experts are members of the administration and have expertise in business
management, sustainability, and business innovation. Seven experts were men, and two were women.
On average, the experts had dedicated more than 20 years to studying or working in entrepreneurship
and sustainability. We eliminated scores whose consistency ratio was greater than 5% or 10% for
3×3 or 4 ×4 scores, respectively .
Table 2shows the key results of the analysis. The most important factors for driving sustainable
entrepreneurship were behavioral factors, which had a score of 49.59%. The next most important
factors were business factors, which had a weight of 30.26%. Human relations were considered
substantially less important (13.60%), as was the environment (6.55%).
Sustainability 2018,10, 452 7 of 12
Table 2. Ranking of criteria and subcriteria.
Goal Criterion Subcriterion 1 Subcriterion 2 Weighted Subcriteria
Social awareness 48.12% Social awareness 3.2%
Policies 27.81% Policies 1.8%
regulations 14.93% Environmental
Intrinsic 36.94% Intrinsic 6.1%
Extrinsic 16.79% Extrinsic 2.8%
Flow 21.28% Flow 3.5%
Compassion 14.24% Compassion 2.6%
Empathy 26.67% Empathy 4.9%
Ethics 43.83% Ethics 8.1%
Self-efﬁcacy 35.25% Self-efﬁcacy 5.1%
intelligence 46.81% Competitive
Human relations 13.60%
Congruence 21.84% Congruence 3.0%
Leadership 67.32% Leadership 9.2%
Business factors 30.26%
Job satisfaction 20.33% Job satisfaction 6.2%
management 48.95% Business
subsidies 11.91% Access to
Sustainability 2018,10, 452 8 of 12
Table 2also shows the most important subcriterion within each criterion. With a score of
67.32%, leadership was particularly important within the human relations criterion. The second most
important subcriterion was business management (48.95%), which was a subcriterion of the business
factors. With a weight of 48.12%, social awareness was the main variable within the environment
and surroundings criterion. Within the behavior criterion, all three subcriteria had similar weights:
37.07% for lifestyle, 29.45% for metacognition, and 33.48% for motivation. In short, leadership was
the primary component (67.32%), followed by business management, social awareness, competitive
intelligence, intrinsic motivation, and self-efﬁcacy. The score for each of these factors accounted for
more than 30% of the group to which that factor belonged (Table 2).
Table 3shows the ranking of each subcriterion. Speciﬁcally, 22 subcriteria can be used to
explain the causes of sustainable entrepreneurship. The most important criteria for sustainable
entrepreneurship are the ﬁrst eight in Table 3. These subcriteria refer to business management (14.81%),
leadership (9.16%), ethics (8.06%), competitive intelligence (6.84%), job satisfaction (6.15%), intrinsic
motivation (6.13%), proﬁt (5.69%), and self-efﬁcacy (5.15%).
Table 3. Ranking of subcriteria.
Ranking Subcriterion Weight
1 Business management 14.81%
2 Leadership 9.16%
3 Ethics 8.06%
4 Competitive intelligence 6.84%
5 Job satisfaction 6.15%
6 Intrinsic motivation 6.13%
7 Proﬁt 5.69%
8 Self-efﬁcacy 5.15%
9 Empathy 4.90%
10 Prosocial behavior 4.15%
11 Access to subsidies 3.60%
12 Flow 3.53%
13 Social awareness 3.15%
14 Congruence 2.97%
15 Altruism 2.80%
16 Extrinsic motivation 2.79%
17 Self-regulation 2.62%
18 Compassion 2.62%
19 Policies 1.82%
20 Reputation 1.47%
21 Environmental regulations 0.98%
22 Sustainability 0.60%
Notably, policies, which promote entrepreneurship through institutional initiatives,
and environmental regulations, which ensure compliance with the legislation, appear near the bottom
of this ranking. Each of these factors contributes to approximately only 1% of success.
6. Discussion and Conclusions
The results of the analysis show that the most important sustainability criteria are those that
relate to behavior, followed by business factors. Within these behavioral criteria, ethics, competitive
intelligence, intrinsic motivation, and self-efﬁcacy are particularly important. Thus, aspects related to
the entrepreneur’s behavior and beliefs are fundamental for developing an awareness of the need to
engage in sustainable entrepreneurship. Among these aspects, competitive intelligence, ethics, intrinsic
motivation, self-efﬁcacy, empathy, and prosocial motivation are noteworthy. This ﬁnding is consistent
with those reported in prior studies. Ethical principles and values are crucial for undertaking actions
that lead to sustainability [
]. But, on its own, this is not enough. Entrepreneurs also need competitive
Sustainability 2018,10, 452 9 of 12
intelligence so that they can proactively transform competitive strengths [
], shape their actions to
achieve goals in response to intrinsic motivations [
], and keep faith in their efﬁcacy and believe that
they are capable of achieving whatever targets they set themselves .
In addition to behavioral criteria, notable business factors are business management, job satisfaction,
and profits. Efficient business management provides the maximum economic and social benefits [
Sustainable entrepreneurship must be successful in a competitive market environment [5,7].
The initial ranking of the criteria indicates that the key subcriterion for the human relations
criterion is leadership, which consists of individual and shared leadership. From this perspective,
the leader participates in an interactive process whereby individuals progress toward the goals of
the group, in accordance with the goals of the organization [
]. Finally, social awareness also has a
strong weight in the environment criterion. Social awareness relates to educating the society to raise
awareness of the effects of environmental damage .
The ranking and weighted analysis of the subcriteria shows that the most important factor is
business management. The resulting model shows the weight of two types of criteria. The ﬁrst type
includes those belonging to business factors, which include business management, job satisfaction,
and proﬁts. These ﬁndings support Parrish’s [
] research by showing that sustainable entrepreneurship
is framed in a competitive context where proﬁts matter. In a competitive, sustainable environment,
entrepreneurship can arise in response to business needs, encourage structural social transformations,
and promote emerging sustainable technologies associated with these sustainable initiatives .
The second group includes factors related to behavior and human relations. In this case,
leadership, ethics, competitive intelligence, job satisfaction, intrinsic motivation, self-efﬁcacy, empathy,
and prosocial motivation are noteworthy. Sustainable entrepreneurship depends on the personal and
psychological factors of people undertaking sustainable actions. These results support previously
reported ﬁndings [9,15,16,31].
Thus, this study shows that sustainable entrepreneurship must consider economic prosperity as
well as environmental integrity and social sustainability [
]. Planning, organization, management,
and resource management are crucial to maximize both social beneﬁt and ﬁnancial proﬁt [
Sustainable entrepreneurship occurs in a competitive environment, so making sufﬁcient proﬁts to
support the sustainable entrepreneurship initiative is critical [
]. Innovative and entrepreneurial ﬁrms
that strive for sustainability combine individual and group leadership. The qualities of the leader are
combined with shared leadership in an interactive process whereby people push themselves to achieve
organizational and personal goals [
]. Our ﬁndings conﬁrm the prominent role of ethical principles
and personal values in sustainable entrepreneurship [
] as well as the importance of competitive
], job satisfaction [
], intrinsic motivation [
], self-efﬁcacy [
], empathy toward
sustainability , and prosocial motivation .
Our ﬁndings indicate that business factors (business management, job satisfaction, and proﬁts),
as well as behavioral factors (ethics, competitive intelligence, intrinsic motivation, self-efﬁcacy,
empathy, and prosocial motivation) and human relations (leadership), are key factors of sustainable
entrepreneurship. Business factors are the most important factors. Sustainable entrepreneurship does
not only address altruistic factors; sustainable entrepreneurs can arise in a sustainable environment
where markets are driven by sustainability [
]. Furthermore, among the behavioral factors,
entrepreneurship must draw on shared and individual leadership and universal ethical criteria.
Sustainable entrepreneurship must be characterized by competitive intelligence and strong job
satisfaction. In addition, these entrepreneurs must be driven by intrinsic and prosocial motivation
and self-efﬁcacy, and they must perceive that they are capable of performing the tasks required
to pursue sustainable goals. Finally, they must develop empathy for sustainability, which builds
a connection with people, the surroundings, and the environment. These results are consistent
with recent ﬁndings reported by Reference [
]. As discussed, recent research has investigated the
characteristics of sustainable entrepreneurs. Our model provides fresh insight by showing that,
while business factors may be the tip of the iceberg, they must be supported by behavioral factors
Sustainability 2018,10, 452 10 of 12
such as shared leadership, ethics, competitive intelligence, and job satisfaction. Our results also
show that environmental factors are barely considered by experts in sustainable entrepreneurship.
Environmental regulations, entrepreneurship policies, and sustainability on their own are not relevant
factors when creating sustainable initiatives. These factors may be more prominent in entrepreneurial
initiatives that follow an eco-social approach .
This study has certain limitations. First, the method was based on experts’ criteria. The views of
experts might be subject to biases resulting from their career paths, academic training, or experience.
However, this is also a strength of the method, which was based on the views of people with experience
in a range of areas with different cultures [
]. Therefore, these results might be valid for contexts that
resemble the region that was analyzed in this study. Second, the deﬁnition of the terms may also be a
limitation of this study. These terms may change over time, and interpretations of their connotations
may vary. These terms were nonetheless deﬁned in the questionnaire that was used to collect the data
for this study.
Funding support was provided by an R&D project for Research Teams of Excellence,
PROMETEO Program (reference: GVPROMETEO/2015/003), and an R&D project funded by the Ministry
of Economy and Competitiveness (reference: PSI2016-78242-R).
Ana Tur-Porcar designed the study, developed the theoretical background, and drew
conclusions from the empirical analysis. Norat Roig-Tierno designed the empirical study and devised the
method. He also conducted the empirical analysis and interpreted the results of this analysis. Anna Llorca Mestre
participated in the design of the study and sought and analyzed the supporting literature.
Conﬂicts of Interest: The authors declare no conﬂict of interest.
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