An entrepreneurial theorising of the recycling industry.
Gan, Bee Ching
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The research interest for this study began with a general observation of the lack of theory-practice integration between the academic context of recycling and entrepreneurship set against the growth in the recycling industry. The research thus began by asking, ‘how well does entrepreneurship explain the recycling industry?’ This research focuses on the recycling entrepreneurs’ entrepreneurial experiences and their relationships with their social context. Twenty-five recycling entrepreneurs were interviewed in-depth using unstructured interviews as the primary data collection method. Inductive analysis has been applied to these data on multiple levels. Firstly, a context (structure) level analysis identified a green culture and structure arising from social demands pertaining to environmental concerns and the corresponding political responses that gave rise to socio-cultural and economic implications. Secondly, an entrepreneur (agent) level analysis revealed that the entrepreneurs’ motivation to start and continue recycling businesses was attached to a particular value perception of the recycling opportunity. This orientation underlies the different forms of opportunity constructions. Analysis at the process level drew upon the interactive processes between the preceding two levels to understand the dynamic relationship between structure and agency. The analysis demonstrated the entrepreneurs’ role in manifesting entrepreneurial events via value extraction processes realised through embeddedness. This included different ways of adaptation to the green structure, adoption of green values and the forging of ties. In doing so, they imbued the structure with an apparent overarching creation of green values. The novel analytical approach adopted for this study provides avenues of advancement in entrepreneurship research: firstly, in the adoption of value orientation as the unit of analysis; and secondly, in the dynamic nature of the analytical approach which explored the interrelatedness between structure, agent and agency. This analysis has identified a paradox whereby entrepreneurs who lack green value orientations are nevertheless performing green actions and thus perpetuating the green socio-political context. Another contribution of this research lies in its thesis that the increasing emphasis in the recycling industry is a social construction of reality, but one given an objective nature attached to the language of ‘green’. This is intensified by the entrepreneurs’ articulation of their reality. Thus, as well as its contribution to both entrepreneurship and recycling literatures, the study provides an informed platform for policy makers and practitioners.