Out of business in Leeds 2022 | Complete edition
A Leeds researcher says founders may be our best hope for solving climate change.
When it comes to solving the climate crisis, Jeff York doesn’t trust governments or corporations. If this crisis can be resolved, he said, it will be because entrepreneurs create new solutions through innovation, initiative and flexibility – something the establishment has failed to show.
“Climate change is possibly the greatest tragedy of our lives and we are running out of time to act,” said York, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Chair of Leeds’ Department of Social Responsibility and Sustainability. “Unfortunately, dealing with this has become an extremely polarizing, politicized issue.”
In a landmark study to be published in Organization Science, York and his co-authors examined how entrepreneurship is a promising but often-overlooked way to combat climate change.
They found that at a time when climate change is a political issue, entrepreneurs with climate-conscious products can build common ground between the pro-market, generally conservative side that values growing businesses, and the liberal-minded, eco-friendly side . who care about protecting the planet.
“Our research found that environmental entrepreneurs perform better in markets with strong influence of both pro-market and pro-environmental logics,” he said. “This levels the playing field and allows them to compete effectively with existing companies.”
“Entrepreneurs are creating for-profit ventures that can address climate change in ways that governments and activists cannot,” he said.
To this end, the changing attitudes towards climate change and the economy must be taken into account. Donor support helped fund a key dataset used in York’s research and demonstrated the interest of the business community in playing a role in addressing this challenge.
Being a green company, York said, doesn’t preclude a new venture from being profitable: “Developing entrepreneurial solutions to combat climate change is the biggest economic opportunity I’ll have in my life.”