Entrepreneurial Strategy in the System Context. Strategies to develop the biomaterial business in the Netherlands.
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The transition towards a bio-based economy necessitates far-reaching changes in the micro-economical structure of firms, but also the macro-economical structure of the entire system context. Entrepreneurs that innovate are thought to be able to contribute to this transition by creating a new system with their sustainable innovations. Although much attention has been given as to how entrepreneurs innovate, it is much less known how innovating entrepreneurs introduce changes in the system context. This research aims to address this issue, by investigating the strategies of entrepreneurs to change the system context for the successful introduction and diffusion of sustainable innovations. Interviews have been held with 8 entrepreneurs introducing bioplastics, a sustainable alternative to traditional petroplastics, in the Netherlands. The influences and strategies mentioned by the interviewed entrepreneurs are analyzed by using an innovation system framework that distinguishes between the type of system interaction and the actor from the system context with whom the interaction occurs. The results show that the strategies used by entrepreneurs can be classified by the type of firm they run. With different approaches for interacting with the system context entrepreneurs aim to connect with existing actors in the system and depend on other actors for creating changes in the institutional environment. Because bioplastics is still a developing niche market, most of the entrepreneurs experience similar influences from the system context but on the other hand entrepreneurs have different strategies to interact with the system context. These insights can help in the understanding of the interactions between entrepreneurs and the system context in order to more effectively stimulate and support innovating entrepreneurs to contribute in changing the system towards sustainability.