CHAPTER 7

Ecopreneurship for Sustainability: Role of Entrepreneurial Bricolage, Design Thinking, and Creative Self-Efficacy

Parag Rastogi and Radha R. Sharma

The role of business practices in dealing with sustainability issues such as environmental degradation and climate change has become a centerpiece in the sustainability-related literature (Porter and Kramer, 2011). In the realm of entrepreneurship, the concepts of ecopreneurship, sustainable entrepreneurship, and social entrepreneurship are more on the lines of Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter’s concept of “creative destruction.” The chapter presents a novel approach involving design thinking to develop environmentally sustainable solutions in infrastructure industry. This approach is necessary if environmental and the relevant economic and social issues are to be addressed effectively in this sector. Drawing from the emerging fields of ecopreneurship and bricolage, we recommend creation of a cadre of design ecopreneurs who would evolve a framework for its resolution.

Introduction

Entrepreneurship and its impact on the economy is an important thread in the economic discourse. Success of an entrepreneur in a resource-constrained environment spawns inspiring stories that others want to emulate. It arouses curiosity as to how some successful entrepreneurs could make the most of the opportunities that others would have given up due to resource constraints. There are three major theories in entrepreneurship, anchored in the way opportunities are identified or created: (1) causation,1,2 (2) effectuation,3 and (3) bricolage.4 Fisher,5 after comparing the three theories, has posited that there are theoretical similarities and differences among them. The causation or discovery and exploitation model of entrepreneurship1,6 is the dominant theory in entrepreneurship. This theory suggests a linear model of entrepreneurship in which successful entrepreneurs are characterized by their ability to identify large opportunities6 and the exploitation of the opportunities.7 This is done by obtaining high-quality resources according to the plan and deploying these resources in a skillful and disruptive manner.2 However, empirical research has suggested that many of the aspects of the causation theory are violated by even successful entrepreneurs.8 This has given rise to alternative entrepreneurial theories, which include effectuation3 and bricolage.4

Bricolage

The term bricolage was first introduced by Levi-Strauss,9 who defined it as “making do” with current resources and creating new forms and order from tools and materials at hand. Baker and Nelson4 introduced bricolage theory into entrepreneurship, and since then the theory has led to widespread discussion in literature. Entrepreneurial bricolage is an emerging entrepreneurial theory,4 and boundaries are still evolving. According to Davidsson, Baker, and Senyard,10 the most important current theme in opportunity–resource nexus theory is the emerging theory of entrepreneurial bricolage.

Bricolage has been conceptually and empirically linked to explain market creation,4 innovation,11,12 opportunity exploitation,13,14 firm’s performance,15 firm’s growth,16 processes,17 social entrepreneurship,18 and emerging markets.19,20 Bricolage has been considered at the individual level,21 organizational level,22 and interorganizational/environmental level.23 Bricolage studies were initiated from developed countries, namely, the United States,4 Sweden,24 Australia (Davidsson, Baker, and Senyard, 2009), and in recent years, some studies have emanated from emerging economies like Kenya,20 China,25 Palestine,19 Bangladesh,26 Malaysia,27 and India.28,29

Bricolage as a model includes entrepreneurial activities that do not seem to fit a model of only rationality and profit-maximizing engine.4,17,30 Bricoleurs often draw from unrelated or underdeveloped resources during the opportunity-formation process, and hence, bricolage “represents a form of value creation that does not depend on the Schumpeterian assumption that assets are withdrawn from one activity for application in another”.4

Most of the work done on entrepreneurial bricolage is focused on developed country contexts where resource scarcity is not as acute as it is in the developing world. Bricolage research in the developed economies is focused on understanding social entrepreneurship rather than the use of bricolage for-profit entrepreneurship.20 The contextual conditions significantly differ between developing and developed economies31; hence, in developing countries, entrepreneurs work in institutional voids26 and skills and knowledge scarcity.32 Such conditions lead to entrepreneurs behaving differently from those in the developed economies.

Ecopreneurship

The term “ecopreneurship” combines “ecological” (“eco”) and “entrepreneurship” and can be thought of as “entrepreneurship through an environmental lens.” Ecopreneurship is distinct from other forms of corporate environmental development by a company’s commitment to impact environmental progress. Ecopreneurs combine environmental considerations with their business activities in a drive to shift the basis of economic development toward a more environment-oriented basis.33 Schlange34 suggested that “ecologically driven entrepreneurship has sustainability as a key element to motivate its basic approach.”

There is an increasing evidence of environmental degradation. Consequently, there has been emergence of new businesses “such as renewable energy, green buildings, natural foods, and other sectors, which reflects an increase in the importance for environmental entrepreneurship”.33 Hence, it is no surprise that there has been a focus on understanding entrepreneurship as a potential mechanism for sustainable development. Sustainable entrepreneurs are those entrepreneurs who combine various aspects of sustainability35 and seek to perpetuate resources focused on sustainable development. Such entrepreneurs play an important role in bringing a paradigm shift toward a new model of development. Beveridge and Guy36 proposed that such development models can be used to alleviate global warming and other negative environmental impacts. These entrepreneurs could possibly have business models that are counter to typical opportunity-seeking and exploitative entrepreneurial behavior.

A venture can be termed as sustainability-driven if it combines opportunities and intentions to simultaneously create value from an economic, social, and ecological perspective34; thus, one can observe many ecological advancements in recent years, for example, commercialization of hybrid cars, solar power, and windmills. Such technologies can also trigger evolution in institutions. As these innovations become part of the mainstream, there are frequent policy responses and initiatives.

New business forms develop when ecopreneurs seek to combine environmental awareness with business success and conventional entrepreneurial activity.37 Schaltegger38 proposed that “ecopreneurs destroy existing conventional production methods, products, market structures and consumption patterns and replace them with superior environmental products and services.”

According to Post and Altman,39 there are three drivers of change from an external context:

1. Compliance-driven, which emerge as an outcome of government regulation and legislation.

2. Market-driven, with environmentally beneficial behavior coming as a result of profit seeking.

3. Value-driven, with environmental change coming in response to end-user demands.

Challenges for Ecopreneurs

The challenge of market creation or the limited extent of the market for products and processes is true for all entrepreneurs. According to Linnanen,40 “market creation is even more difficult for environmental business ideas than it is for non-environmental business ideas, because the financial community may not yet be mature enough to finance environmental innovations, and the role of ethical reasoning creates confusion within the mainstream business community.”

Over the years, there has been an improvement in the awareness levels of green issues. There have been attempts at linking sustainability and competitive advantages for businesses and an increase in the interest levels of venture capitalists toward ecopreneurial ventures, and venture capitalists have started appreciating the benefits of funding ecopreneurs. Ecopreneurs have an additional objective/constraint toward the environment. Randjelovic, O’Rourke, and Orsato41 pointed out that ecopreneurial development may require longer gestation periods to achieve market breakthrough than conventional entrepreneurial activity. This can deter investors who are looking for a quick return on their investment. Ecopreneurs do not operate in isolation and “will be influenced by the evolving economic and social structures around them and, in turn, are influencing those structures”.42 Interplay between individual motivations for ecopreneurial activity and the broader economic and social context within which individuals operate is important.42

One of the main distinctive traits of ecopreneurs is their intent to change the face of their companies.38 Ecopreneurs, by developing innovative solutions and by impacting management practices, can change the entire business model. In doing so, some ecopreneurs experience inner tension when they have to make a choice between profits and going green.40

Ecopreneurs work on a larger canvas than the conventional entrepreneur with many profit-seeking and nonprofit relationships and practices43 and the ecopreneurial environment is a contingent, undetermined space full of ideologies and desires. O’Neill and Gibbs44 conceptualized ecopreneurial businesses as continually “made and remade” and that makes ecopreneurship vary temporally and spatially termed as “relational.” Thus, ecopreneurs are constrained in their potential to substantially outperform the economy.

Furthermore, Houtbeckers45 termed ecopreneurship as a mundane process that evolves over time. Ecopreneurs contribute to the expansion of the green economy and provide new solutions that can be adopted by the industry. Ecopreneurs’ output is embedded in social relations, and environmentalism is embedded in social relations.37 Kirkwood and Walton46 observed that the social context that ecopreneurs experience influences their behavior.

In an Indian study on building construction ecopreneurs, Rastogi and Sharma28 identified some of the challenges that ecopreneurs face:

Conflict of customer requirements and available solutions

Lack of understanding of implications of long-term use of non-sustainable designs

Supplier base not fully equipped to support the solution/stakeholders at different levels of evolution

Risk in the solution/technology not delivering the requirements (end-of-pipe risk)

These are summarized in Figure 7.1

Figure 7.1 Challenges faced by ecopreneurs in business

Entrepreneurial Resource Management and Bricolage

Resource Scarcity

Resources are critical for the performance of a new venture, and most of the firms do not own or control the set of resources required to build a competitive advantage. Entrepreneurial resources or rather the lack of them characterizes many of the start-ups. In emerging markets, the problem of scarcity of resources is likely to be more acute than that in the developed world. Undoubtedly, resources are critical in the performance of a new venture; however, the straightforward application of the resource-based view (RBV) in predicting firm success is too simplistic.47 Wiklund and Shepherd7 argued that the availability of resources moderates the relationship between entrepreneurial orientation (EO) and performance. Julienti, Bakar, and Ahmad48 posited that both tangible and intangible resources contribute to the firm’s product innovation performance.

Bricolage and Entrepreneurial Bricolage

Material Bricolage

Material bricolage represents the combination of resources at hand to find novel and workable approaches to overcome problems and exploit opportunities.4 Many studies link entrepreneurial bricolage to resource-constrained environment.4,20,49-51 Resources can be material (physical and financial), knowledge, and ideational.4 Steffens, Senyard, and Baker52 showed that firms have a more advantageous position if they have higher level of bricolage. Another categorization of bricolage is by Molecke and Pinkse.53 According to them, material bricolage is the process of combination of resources to find workable approaches to exploit the opportunities.

Ideational Bricolage

Levi-Strauss9 explained “ideational” bricolage by metaphorical reference to the bricoleur as a sort of handyman who makes his way into the world by meeting day-to-day challenges and opportunities through trial-and-error combination of whatever materials, tools, and skills he has accumulated along the way. Ideational bricolage is the mechanism through which old myths are combined in order to develop new myths that serve novel functions. Levi-Strauss9 introduced bricolage primarily to explain how a society borrows structural elements of other cultures (e.g., elements of myths) and recombines them to suit their own purposes.

According to Vanevenhoven et al,14 the way entrepreneurs move from opportunity recognition to exploitation depends on the type of bricolage used to combine resources. They also proposed two forms of bricolage: internal and external. Internal bricolage deals with individuals’ experience, academic qualifications, and so on, and external bricolage deals with combination of resources present in the external environment. According to them, both types of bricolage are necessary for opportunity exploitation.

Dynamic Capabilities Theory

Dynamic capabilities are “processes that use resources–specifically the processes to integrate, reconfigure, gain, and release resources–to match and even create market change”.47 e Cunha and Da Cunha54 integrated bricolage with improvisation, minimal structures, simple rules, dynamic capabilities, and organization resilience and proposed a theoretical model. While e Cunha and Da Cunha54 proposed that bricolage is linked to dynamic capabilities, Fultz and Baker55 showed that bricolage can indeed lead to dynamic capabilities by fostering willingness and ability to bring about alternative solutions. They also showed that there is a destructive potential of high levels of bricolage on dynamic capabilities.

Institutional Theory

While several studies26,49 concluded that bricolage is a legitimate process for institutional change in emerging economies, they looked at it from the perspective of an institutional void. Linna20 noted that no attention has been paid to bricolage in the context of local entrepreneurs in developing countries. Duymedjian and Ruling22 made a theoretical attempt in laying the foundation of bricolage concept in organization and management theory. They identified social value creation, stakeholder participation, and persuasion as constructs that extend social bricolage.

Resource-Based View Theory

The RBV of the firm focuses on the role of resources in determining the strategic advantage of a firm.56,57 Greene and Brown58 identified human, social, physical, organizational, and financial resources as the key entrepreneurial resources in the context of RBV. The recombination of resources, activities, and processes within the firm is the implementation of the strategic choice and leads to a new set of activities, new sources of revenue, and a new business model for the firm. Penrose59 posited that a firm achieves competitiveness not just because of its resources but also because of its competence in making better use of its resources. Traditionally, RBV scholarship has been less concerned with how these resources are acquired and developed, but the bricolage processes help us understand how entrepreneurs can “make do by applying combinations of the resources at hand to new problems and opportunities.”

The question remains how in a resource-constrained environment an entrepreneur leverages his or her exploratory orientation to improve entrepreneurial outcomes using bricolage processes. As bricolage is an emerging field, there are gaps in our understanding of several bricolage processes. There are knowledge gaps in understanding the mechanisms by which resources are mobilized. There are gaps in creative use of resources as practiced by entrepreneurs.60 Bacq et al.18 questioned the use of bricolage as a long-term strategy. Research needs to be conducted in environments where resource constraints are different and in organizations that are not social firms.30 Molecke and Pinkse53 find that even for-profit entrepreneurs increasingly consider their broader impact on society.

RBV posits that a firm’s success is driven by resources that possess certain special characteristics.56 Several studies have identified entrepreneurial bricolage to be a specific knowledge process that entrepreneurs use to mitigate resource limitations and to seize and leverage market opportunities.14,17,19,30 Steffens, Senyard, and Baker52 tested the link between bricolage and firm’s strategic resource position. Ferneley and Bell11 studied information technology innovation in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and concluded that bricolage fits the “can do” mentality of SMEs and exhorted that for bricolage to flourish, organizational space and management vision are required. Sarkar61 used RBV to understand the role of bricolage in social change at bottom of the pyramid (BoP) and concluded that there are distinctive features of bricolage used to overcome resource constraints.

Most of the bricolage research deals with the start-up phase of the firms as it is during the start-up phase that they are most deprived of resources. However, in recent years, there has been a small stream of research that has examined firms that have used enhanced bricolage capabilities to augment innovation, giving them a competitive advantage and, hence, positively impacting their performance (Bacq et al., 2014).13,21 There were also instances where bricolage has functioned as a dynamic capability under a situation of crisis or environmental turbulence.55

To summarize, the foregoing demonstrates that bricolage transforms the scant entrepreneurial resources into performance and that entrepreneurial bricolage is a mediating variable between entrepreneurial resources and entrepreneurial success.

EO and Bricolage

EO has become a central concept in entrepreneurial theory. The research on EO and business performance is ever increasing, and firms “pursuing high entrepreneurial orientation are faced with decisions involving risk taking and the allocation of scarce resources”.62 EO is a multidimensional construct; the three dimensions of EO identified by Miller63 are: innovativeness, risk taking, and proactiveness. Later, Lumpkin and Dess64 added two more dimensions: competitive aggressiveness and autonomy.

EO captures the behavior an entrepreneur demonstrates in terms of entrepreneurial actions and decisions. Hooi et al.27 showed that EO is linked with sustainable entrepreneurship and is mediated by the role and degree of entrepreneurial bricolage. Phillips and Tracey13 suggested that bricolage is an entrepreneurial capability of formation of new means–ends relationships. It is suggested that SMEs use bricolage to exploit opportunities, abuse of bricolage can have a negative impact on opportunity exploitation. One of the theories defining the nature of dimensions within the EO construct is the RBV. The premise in this theoretical construct is that certain firm resources and capabilities may lead to greater EO and that EO may give rise to an increase in a firm’s resources and capabilities.65 Wiklund and Shepherd66 observed that there has been limited research into mediating influences in EO–outcome relationships. Rauch et al.62 posited that substantial theoretical and empirical contributions can be made in studies that investigate the conditions in which EO–performance relationships are either strengthened or weakened.

Digan et al.29 suggested that perceived competence and self-determination help bricolage behavior in women entrepreneurs. An et al. (2018) found that learning orientation has a positive moderating effect on the relationship between bricolage and opportunity identification. Sarkar61 studied grassroot entrepreneurs and found that domain-specific skills and the use of spare time help bricolage behavior. Bojica, Istanbouli, and Fuentes-Fuentes19 demonstrated the role of subjective perspectives like degree of autonomy in bricolage.

Entrepreneurial Bricolage, Design Thinking, and Creative Self-Efficacy

Bricolage and Innovation

Even before Baker and Nelson4 demonstrated the nexus between entrepreneurship and bricolage, there have been suggestions that bricolage has a link with innovation. Garud and Karnoe23 studied technology entrepreneurship and suggested that breakthrough and bricolage are contrasting approaches toward innovation to develop alternate technology pathways. Baker, Miner, and Eesley16 showed that bricolage processes can permeate entrepreneurial activities to create innovative implications. Hmieleski and Corbett67 used creative bricolage to explain that improvisation accounts for a significant amount of variance in entrepreneurial intentions. Anderson69 chose a bottom-up perspective to explore innovations and concluded that bricolage clarifies innovations from bottom-up processes utilizing what is at hand or embedded locally. Furthermore, Anderson68 suggested that bottom-up mobilization is pivotal to release creativity. Fuglsang and Sorensen69 stated that there is a very close association between bricolage and innovation and innovation occurs as a small step in the context of sustainable public innovation. This has also been supported by Beckett,50 who posited that introducing radical innovation in large organizations has been proven to be difficult and that it is better to opt for incremental innovation through the bricolage process.

Witell et al.70 used service innovation to study bricolage and concluded that a bricolage perspective is better to explain service innovation in resource-constrained environments. Leliveld and Knorringa71 linked bricolage and frugal innovation. Kickul et al.72 concluded that there is a positive relationship between bricolage and catalytic innovations.

Halme, Lindeman, and Linna73 concluded that bricolage has an impact on inclusive innovations pursued by multinational corporations to create innovative, pro-poor, or inclusive business models. Salunke, Weerawardana, and McColl-Kennedy (2013) studied project-based firms and found that higher levels of bricolage are associated with supportive service innovation and, consequently, sustainable competitive advantage.

Senyard, Baker, Davidsson, and Steffens12 provided that bricolage improves the innovativeness of resource-constrained new firms. SMEs can promote innovation using bricolage as a given. Innovating for low-income markets is very different from high-income markets and concluded that bricolage is one of the antecedents of affordable value innovations for emerging markets.

Bricolage, Design Thinking, and Creativity

Bricolage is practiced as a means of exploring creativity within a time pressure and crisis context. An, Guo and Zhang (2016) found that bricolage is a mediator of entrepreneurial creativity and firm-level innovation in SMEs. There has been evidence that social entrepreneurs utilize resources in new and innovative ways. Studies on entrepreneurship3,4 (Bradley et al., 2010) and creativity research (Moreau and Dahl, 2005, Ward, 2004) showed innovation can be developed efficiently despite–or even because of–resource constraints.74 Keupp and Gassman75 linked resource constraints and innovation.

Design thinking is a multidisciplinary field and has been described as the best way to be creative and innovate.76 Architects employ design tools like prototyping, visualization of ideas, and user observation. Bandura77 explained self-efficacy as “concerned not with what one has but with belief in what one can do with whatever resources one can muster.” One of the most important predictors of self-efficacy is the experience of success in past performance.78 Self-efficacy describes a person’s “beliefs that he/she can perform tasks and fulfil roles, and is directly related to expectations, goals and motivations”.79 High self-efficacy is linked to work-related performance,80 small business growth,81 and career choice.82

Resource constraints can stimulate entrepreneurs to adopt creative behavior to achieve the innovation outcome. In this context, resource constraints do not inhibit innovation; in fact, they enable it.75 New firms can generate innovations because of, not despite of, resource constraints.74 Resource constraints cannot generate innovations automatically. Certain behaviors need to be taken to translate resource constraints into innovation outcomes. Resource constraints are an antecedent of the link between bricolage and innovation. Resource constraints can trigger bricolage and thus can trigger innovation as well. Entrepreneur’s self-efficacy is an important factor in mobilizing social and financial resources as a form of cognitive resilience in opportunity exploitation. In this context, the focus is on task-specific rather than general self-efficacy, that is, creative self-efficacy, which is the extent to which a person feels confident to perform well on the creative or design aspects of the job.

Creative self-efficacy has made a significant contribution as a process variable explaining how several organizational and personal factors influence creative outcomes. Researchers have demonstrated that self-belief about one’s creative ability is an important motivational factor to perform creatively.83 Results show that an increase in creative self-efficacy corresponds to an increase in creative performance as well.83 Self-efficacy specific to a given activity domain is most instrumental in predicting performance in that domain (Bandura, 1986). Creative self-efficacy has demonstrated associations across diverse settings.83 Tierney and Farmer83 found that when individuals face complex tasks, they utilize cognitive faculties and processes that generate creativity. Tierney and Farmer83 also proposed that creative self-efficacy has an important role in solving complex tasks. Consequently, it is postulated that creative self-efficacy facilitates entrepreneurial bricolage.

Exploratory Orientation

Exploratory action and exploration as a process is embedded in psychological theories. In recent years, the word “exploration” has been widely used in the field of management, for example, exploratory innovation and exploratory learning. In a broad sense, the concept of exploration includes activities of information gathering about the environment and of investigation—inspective and inquisitive behavior.84 The essence of exploration is about engagement with the environment and the motivation to acquire information through interaction with the world.84 Exploration is thought to be impinged upon the concepts of self-determination theory and self-regulation.84 Exploration is a process of discovery using trial-and-error studies in an unknown field and, thus, closely related to innovation. Organizations less well-endowed with resources are more likely to explore, especially when they operate in competitive environs. Scholars have found that enterprises with an exploratory orientation can more effectively access resources and adapt to future environmental changes.85

“Exploratory orientation” refers to the tendency of enterprises to engage in activities such as “search, variation, risk taking, experimentation and discovery”.85 Exploratory orientation emphasizes discarding existing technology and market trajectories, seeking new knowledge actively, and promoting the development of new products, technologies, processes, or structures. In addition, it pays attention to whether enterprises can enter new markets, meet new customer demands, and develop new sales channels. According to the RBV, the enterprise’s exploratory orientation is an implicit resource owned by the entrepreneur and can help the enterprises to actively expand their business areas, carry out business activities, and enhance their business performance. From the perspective of competence, the enterprise’s exploratory orientation can help to strengthen its ability to deal with future risks, identify potential business opportunities, and, by trying new business methods and development concepts, promote business model innovation.

It has been argued that enterprises with an exploratory orientation are more able to access resources and adapt to future environmental changes than others. Kollmann, Stöckmann, and Kensbock86 sought to explain exploratory innovation as a mediating variable accounting for entrepreneurial behavior. Fultz and Baker55 suggested that the ability to envision alternative solutions and skills in recombination of entrepreneurs fosters bricolage behavior. Refusal of limitations imposed by environment is a key behavior of bricolage entrepreneurs. Houtbeckers45 identified “finding detours” as a key tactic used. Phillips and Tracey13 refer to the “ability of finding new solutions” as a bricolage behavior. Turturea, Jansen, and Verheul (2014) proposed that SMEs make use of entrepreneurial bricolage to pursue ambidextrous strategies and reconcile the tension between exploration and exploitation.

Creativity, Design Thinking, and Entrepreneurship

Creativity

Creativity has been described as problem-finding, problem formulation, and problem redefinition87 and the synthesis of information. It has been suggested that opportunity recognition process is influenced by creativity.88 Willis, Webb, and Wilsdon89 called the entrepreneurs who challenge established business models and user expectations to develop innovative business solutions as “disruptive innovators.” Scholars have used methods from creativity research to examine opportunity recognition such as creative problem-solving, divergent-thinking, and idea-generation exercises.90 Runco91 suggested that Person, Product, Press (environmental pressure), and Process are the most used parameters in creative studies.

Ardichvili, Cardozo, and Ray88 regarded creativity as a characteristic of entrepreneurs to recognize opportunities. The study suggested that creativity is one of the personality traits related to successful opportunity recognition. The study further proposed that high levels of creativity are linked to high levels of entrepreneur’s alertness and self-efficacy. Scholars have also proposed creativity-based models of opportunity recognition (Dyer, Gregersen, and Christensen, 2008).93

Design Thinking

The origins of design thinking date back to the 1960s’ works of design methodologists that drew distinctions between the science of design and the natural sciences.93 Design was proposed as a scientific method aimed at creating new forms, artifacts, or knowledge. As natural sciences deal with the analysis of existing reality, design science deals with “the transformation of existing conditions into preferred ones”.93 Schön94 emphasized the artistic, intuitive nature of the processes that design practitioners use to understand and solve problems in situations of uncertainty, ambiguity, and instability. Schön conceptualized these processes as “reflective practice.”

Design is an applied discipline and aims at creating more meaningful experiences for customers. Design is targeted toward the creation of solutions and is not seen as the prerogative of a few. Within the concept of design understanding, it is well understood that there is no one right way. Simon93 characterized design problems as ill-structured because they have ambiguous specification of goals. There is no determined solution path, and there is a need to integrate multiple knowledge domains. Design thinking is an approach to problems that a designer might take on the premise that businesspeople need to become designers. IDEO, a leading design firm, not only applies its design expertise to product development but also provides innovative solutions in complex organizational processes. Design thinking can also be useful when applied to situations, processes, and organization forms. The principles that designers use are more apt to apply to businesses than the background of the designer, for example, industrial design or graphic design. Such principles, or approaches, are called Designerly Thinking.95 When applied outside of the design context, like businesses, it is called Design Thinking.76

According to Kolko,96 the term “Design Thinking” undermines the act of doing, when design is actually all about doing and even learning through doing. Design thinking is a mindset to be adopted for problem-solving and requires many years of training and practice to become a natural habit of thinking and doing. Later design scholars unpacked the specifics of the designerly ways of knowing97 in terms of the nature of the design problems and the designers’ attitude to solve such problems.98 Some scholars have proposed that managing is designing.98 Entrepreneurship and design also extend the business model developed by the entrepreneur to create novelty and value in the market. Boland and Collopy98 described entrepreneurs as designers and that “entrepreneurs are wonderful examples of designing managers—giving form to valuable new products, services and sometimes creating whole new industries.”

Based on the review of researches and identification of gaps, a conceptual model has been developed for future research termed “Ecopreneurship for Sustainability: Role of Entrepreneurial Bricolage, Design Thinking, and Creative Self –efficacy” and is presented in Figure 7.2.

Figure 7.2 A conceptual model of ecopreneurship for sustainability: role of entrepreneurial bricolage, design thinking, and creative self–efficacy

Over a period of time, interest in how designers work and think moved from the purview of designers and architects to the field of management, where scholars focused on identifying the design tools that could be used to solve management problems. Designerly problem-solving tools were advocated as effective approaches for businesses seeking to innovate. Brown99 suggested design thinking as a loosely structured organizational process based on a set of tools that encourage innovation and the use of design thinking by business people who needed to solve abstract and multifaceted problems.

Martin100 proposed the metaphor of the “knowledge funnel” to describe design thinking as a way of thinking that balanced both the exploration of new knowledge (innovation) and the exploitation of current knowledge (efficiency). Martin100 argued that this balance of innovation and efficiency helped businesses to systematically develop breakthrough innovations and to gain sustainable competitive advantages.

Sarasvathy3 posited entrepreneurship as design and that “entrepreneurs not only design firms as instruments that adapt to their environments– and help exploit profit opportunities within those environments; but they also shape parts of their environments to more closely resemble both their personal aspirations and their firms’ resource endowments.”

Summary

The chapter argues that resolution of sustainability issues under resource-constrained environment can be done using design thinking and bricolage practices. The ecopreneur, who practices bricolage, is an agent of “creative destruction” and thus creates solutions that are environmentally sustainable. The chapter describes a novel approach that integrates bricolage, design thinking, and creative self-efficacy. This proposed approach can be used to address environmentally sustainable issues and thus merits further research.

Questions

1. How do we balance what is profitable and what is environmentally sustainable? What are the possible approaches to resolve this dilemma?

2. Humans cannot exist without environment, and businesses cannot exist without both. In this context, what are the arguments that support “creative destruction” as practiced by ecopreneurs?

3. In what ways have ecopreneurs practicing design thinking extended the boundaries of business? What are the issues they may face when working on these boundaries to find new solutions?

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