The ‘greening’ incumbent: Incumbent-entrant collaborations for achieving sustainable business models

Welcome to this Futuring Nordics Team meeting.

Tackling society’s most severe challenges, including global warming, has become an important field of research. Within management and organization studies, two central insights have emerged: (1) although it is often young, entrepreneurial firms that drive the change towards more sustainable practices, business models, and circular ways of organizing our economy, it is the large, established incumbent firms that would have the reach and resources to effectively bring about change; however, they often lack the motivation to divert from the status quo; (2) corporate sustainability can be achieved through collective action and collaboration. Our study picks up on these central insights and turns attention to interfirm collaborations between traditionally polluting incumbents and ‘green’ start-ups. Building on a case study of a large energy incumbent in the Nordics, we shed light on the development and institutionalization of a new form of corporate venturing that enables incumbents to pursue partnerships with green start-ups. Specifically, analyzing the collaborative arrangement with two start-ups within the fields of circular economy and recycling, our study provides novel insights into the ‘inner workings’ of incumbent-entrant collaborations and shows how such collaborations, including the venture programs built to facilitate them, can help incumbents to pivot towards sustainability-oriented business models and circular economy.


Published Nov. 19, 2021 9:35 AM - Last modified Nov. 19, 2021 10:26 AM