Low-hanging fruit: How entrepreneurs respond to constraints in developing and emerging countries
This thesis focuses on entrepreneurs’ responses to constraints using the theoretical framework of the paradox of embedded agency– that is, the paradoxical effect that institutional constraints have on entrepreneurs, both restricting and necessitating entrepreneurial institution-changing action. The constraints faced were conceptualised as the embedded component (that is, a feature of the entrepreneurs’ institutional environments) and the entrepreneurs’ responses were conceptualised as the agency component. It was found that the entrepreneurs exhibit two types of responses (‘active’ and ‘passive’) that correspond to the two broad types of constraints faced (‘market’ and ‘government/regulatory’, respectively). The actions taken by the entrepreneurs to deal with these constraints, as reflected in the business models used, suggest that they are utilising various forms and amounts of bricolage, leveraging, in particular, the intangible resources at their disposal. Indeed, very little evidence was found of the use of innovative business models, and no evidence was found of the entrepreneurs’ intentions to confront government/regulatory constraints. The entrepreneurs’ bricolage responses have been likened to picking low-hanging fruit. This may still bode well for the survival of the entrepreneurs’ ventures. However, while the thesis discusses the entrepreneurs’ potential to lead institutional changes, the findings do not confirm or clarify their role in facilitating the faster uptake of renewable energy technologies in developing and emerging countries. However, the implications of these findings go beyond the question of how the entrepreneurs respond to constraint, and the thesis explores the mechanisms and phenomena that may be behind their responses. The renewable energy field and the renewable energy entrepreneurs themselves are complex, and this complexity is exacerbated by the entrepreneurs’ dual roles, as both dominant and peripheral actors, in their organisational fields. By their bringing together of the resources and networks acquired in both capacities, the entrepreneurs’ actions illustrate both sides of the agency versus structure coin – that is, the potential of agents to both influence (or dominate) structure and be influenced by structure (that is, by standing on the periphery). Thus, rather than conceptualising the embedded agent as just one of many, each playing different roles, the stage has been set for conceptualising them as many different individual agents, each with the inherent potential to play multiple roles in the (re)creation of institutional structures.
Advisor: Rose, Elizabeth L; Kirkwood, Jodyanne; Walton, Sara
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Management
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: energy; entrepreneurship
Research Type: Thesis