Institutional entrepreneurship for permaculture: findings from a ‘RAKE’ project

Genus, Audley, Iskandarova, Marfuga and Warburton Brown, Chris (2016) Institutional entrepreneurship for permaculture: findings from a ‘RAKE’ project. In: 39th Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Annual Conference: Institutional Voids, Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development; 27-28 Oct 2016, Paris, France.


The paper reports on an ongoing collaborative project between researchers at the Small Business Research Centre, Kingston University and the Permaculture Association UK, funded by ISBE under the RAKE initiative. Permaculture is a method of sustainable system design and an environmental social movement. The aims of this exploratory project were to assess the nature of enterprises inspired by permaculture in the UK and to understand the factors affecting the start-up and development of such enterprises. This is a novel area of SME/entrepreneurship research. An initial mapping exercise identified over 150 permaculture-inspired enterprises across the UK. Data collection included a short survey of Permaculture Association members who have started up their own enterprise and personal interviews with twenty of these permaculture entrepreneurs. Data analysis was conducted employing mixed methods, involving descriptive statistics of survey data and using NVivo 10 software to analyse interview transcripts. Initial findings show the importance of permaculture entrepreneurs personal and institutional biography and institutional portfolio to the start-up of permaculture enterprises, the acquisition of skills need to develop the business and to entrepreneurs’ relationship to enterprise and to institutions and networks which may or not be supportive of their activities. Beyond this, the project demonstrates collaborative knowledge generation and exchange between academic and non-academic partners.

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