SEA Banner

David Pistrui, Ph.D., US

Acumen Dynamics, LLC

What does Sustainable Entrepreneurship mean to you personally?

To me, sustainable entrepreneurship means that care is given to include a broader set of stakeholders and a keen sensitivity to how natural and other resources are used and in what combinations.

How firmly rooted is Sustainable Entrepreneurship already in people's thinking and, above all, in the actions of entrepreneurs?

Sustainable entrepreneurship is still a relatively new concept. However, it is rapidly gaining attention and emerging as a force shaping entrepreneurial thinking and business development.

In your opinion, to what extent is it possible to reconcile being economically successful with creating added value for society?

I would set forth the notion that a social aspect motivates the vast majority of entrepreneurs, as they strive to build their businesses. For example, I know a fast growing company in Chicago, which used innovative methods to innovate around packaging and environmental concerns, so yes it is possible.

Which sectors do you think are doing the most in terms of Sustainable Entrepreneurship, and which have a lot of catching up to do?

There are several sectors that come to mind, such as electronics with the issues of what to do with old, obsolete equipment. I have seen several entrepreneurs pursuing opportunities in recycling and repurposing electronic equipment. Health care, energy and transportation are all sectors beginning to feel the impact of sustainable entrepreneurship.

It would seem that Sustainable Entrepreneurship has become even more relevant in the wake of the crisis. Why is it that it often takes a crisis for a shift in awareness to come about?

Because crises create disequilibrium in the marketplace, which awakens the entrepreneurial senses to new emergent opportunities. This crisis, was (is) deep and forced (is forcing) people to take a look around, at their own socio-economic place. The question now is do people have the courage to make the changes that are needed?

How can Sustainable Entrepreneurship measures be prevented from being nothing more than greenwashing? Which internal measures and methods must be applied in companies?

Measuring the impact of Sustainable Entrepreneurship can be tricky. It is often challenging to define outcomes and outputs, let alone metrics. I suggest a three-pronged approach. First, a summative account of what has been accomplished vs. objectives. Second is some form of formative assessment, how can we learn from what we experienced to improve future results. Third is some form of developmental assessment, where you prototype and experiment with evaluation methods and models.

Politics, industry, society - who should be the driving force for the development of sustainable entrepreneurship?

Sustainable Entrepreneurship needs to start at the individual and local level, tied to our communities. Only once this has been established can it benefit from the forces of industry, education and government. With a transparent and free marketplace, societies can work together to build entrepreneurial societies that practise sustainability.

Are there any differences between the US and Europe?

There are both similarities and differences between the US and Europe. In the US entrepreneurship drives innovation, job creation and independence. It is seen as a noble profession and pursued by young and old alike. There is a greater risk tolerance in the US, and failure is a badge of honour, for which you are not punished. Self-employment, working in start-ups and SMEs is where the opportunities are, and there is an entrepreneurial spirit that permeates society, which is not the case in Europe.

How would you judge Austria's position in the development of Sustainable Entrepreneurship?

Austria does have some notable development of sustainable entrepreneurship. Examples like the Eco Cluster in Styria are hotbeds of sustainable entrepreneurial activity. Yet overall Austria lacks a robust entrepreneurial spirit. Much more needs to be done to develop entrepreneurship education in high schools and universities. Currently most young Austrians do not view self employment as a viable career path or choice.

What do you think of the SEA initiative?

This is a very good example of what needs to happen in Austria. Events organised at the local level to bring attention to, promote, and build the entrepreneurial eco-system are vital to fostering sustainable entrepreneurship.

You are one of the first SEA ambassadors … What made you decide to contribute as an SEA ambassador?

Serving as an SEA ambassador provides a platform for me to share my entrepreneurial experiences, learn from others and foster sustainable entrepreneurial behaviour in the current and future generations of entrepreneurs, educators and industry leaders.

The next step of the SEA is to install an International Business Association for Sustainable Entrepreneurship – a platform for entrepreneurs to exchange their ideas. Will that help?

Helping SEA install an International Business Association aligns with my ongoing aspirations, activities and commitments to help foster and sustain more responsible entrepreneurial practices around the world.

In what way can each and every one of us contribute towards increasing the relevance of Sustainable Entrepreneurship?

Understand that practising “good entrepreneurship” demands that entrepreneurs and citizens alike are sensitive to the environment, the needs of the marketplace, and most importantly, to strive to improve people’s lives.

And lastly, a personal question: Which is the most memorable SE project you've ever heard of – and why?

All of them are interesting, some more so than others. I am looking forward to future submissions and expect to see some very innovative offerings.