Exploitation of Green Business Opportunities: The Role of Cultural and Symbolic Capital
Ecopreneurs play a vital role in the creation of a more sustainable economy. Yet, we know little of how ecopreneurs mobilize and utilize their entrepreneurial capital to simultaneously create economic and ecological value. In our study, we use Bourdieu’s approach to capital to explore the role of cultural and symbolic capital in ecopreneuerial action. We adopt a qualitative approach with a multiple case study design. The selected sample consists of four ecopreneurs being laureates of green start-up competitions in Austria, acting in the food and waste management industry. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews. For data analysis, we employed a narrative approach. Both forms of capital, cultural and symbolic, play an important role in ecopreneuerial action. Within the former, its embodied (e.g. environmental values, experience in social and ecological projects) and objectified (e.g. bio-based products developed) forms are essential to transforming an ecological idea into business. Within the latter, multiple media coverage, awards, and organic certificates constitute the core actions to gain customers’ awareness and build reputation. Cultural capital is primarily converted into symbolic capital such as prizes and organic certificates. Symbolic capital, in turn, appears to be a core catalyzer for social capital and consequently economic capital. We contribute to the field of ecopreneurship by revealing the nature and mechanisms of capital mobilization by exploring green business opportunities.
ecopreneurship; environmental entrepreneurship; cultural capital; symbolic capital; capital conversion; qualitative research; multiple case study
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