Social SME Entrepreneurship: A Conceptual Model of Innovativeness in Environmentally Sustainable Social Enterprises


  • Anita Zehrer MCI The Entrepreneurial School
  • Leena Saurwein
  • May Britt Hoefer



Social enterprise, Environmentally Sustainable Social Enterprises (ESSE), innovativeness, SME


The awareness of the severity of global sustainability challenges has reinforced appeals to harness and leverage alternative business forms and ecologically sustainable innovations to grant future generations the capability to meet their own needs. This paper aims to develop a conceptual model for innovativeness of Environmentally Sustainable Social Enterprises (ESSEs). After undertaking a systematic literature review, a conceptual model including eight dimensions is developed. This is tested by means of a standardized self-completion online questionnaire among ESSEs. The analysis of the quantitative data enabled us to revise the conceptual model. Our findings confirm the multidimensional nature of the innovativeness of ESSEs primarily inferred from the studies by Lawson and Samson (2001), Hogan et al. (2011), and Iddris (2016). The findings of the study provide a contextually insightful and focused understanding of the eco–innovation capability, related to ESSEs. EI literature predominantly focuses on large, profit–maximizing organizations. Less scientific work examines mission-driven SEs as their object of study. Hence, this study bridges the literature of social entrepreneurship, EI, and innovation management.