Sustainability Paradoxes in International Entrepreneurship


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Sustainability is rapidly becoming a dominant global megatrend. Practitioners, researchers, and policymakers are all challenged to secure the transition towards responsible business practices. This involves juxtaposing the complex web of wealth creation's financial, social, and environmental aspects. Juggling these aspects is often guided by simplistic frameworks (e.g., Tripple Bottom Line). However, in a rapidly evolving global landscape, critical reflection on these frameworks is needed to assist the state-of-the-art sustainable international entrepreneurship research. This is important as international entrepreneurship is very much about international growth of the entrepreneurial firm and that can be considered potentially threatening for the environment, and sustainability as a whole due to issues related to pollution or the disproportionate usage of planet’s resources (Denicolai et al., 2021). Consequently, this starting point can lead to paradoxes such as short-term importance to grow the business financially versus long term goals for environmental aspects. Is an early international rapid growth possibly if the entrepreneurial requirements would be costly to implement? Would an internationalizing firm follow the, let’s say more stringent environmental standards in all of its operations or follow the local host country regulations ‘only’? What role would individuals’ entrepreneurial values play in the context of small- and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) sustainability vs. firm level objectives? There is only sparse research on how international entrepreneurs and SMEs navigate of sustainability efforts. This is paradoxical as these firms are the backbone of production and innovation in many societies.

Secondly, much of the current research is narrowly linked to economic sustainability. However, the complexity of the sustainability landscape involves considerations into a multitude of often overlapping dimensions. Thus, performing on one dimension might involved sacrifices on another. Thirdly, frontline research indicate that international new ventures (INVs) oriented towards both financial, social, and environmental opportunities bear remarkable resemblance to traditional INVs. However, we lack insight on core elements to their internalization choices, specificies of their governance structures, the strategies to attain foreign location advantages, and their unique resources.

This special issue seeks to explore how international entrepreneurs and SMEs navigate the complexities of sustainability. Contributions to this special issue aim to advance our understanding of international sustainable entrepreneurship and its implications for global business practices by critically examining the interplay between environmental, social, and economic factors.

We are open for different theoretical and methodological perspectives. However, in line with the aims of the journal we encourage authors to promote dialogue and new thinking and creatively and critically question the dominant ideas of international entrepreneurship – and consider what is there beyond profit maximization in the international entrepreneurship.

For example, paradox perspective can be a useful method to study sustainable international entrepreneurship as it sees environmental and social concerns as an end in themselves, not only as a means to the profit maximization (Hahn et al. 2010; 2018)

List of topic areas

  • How sustainable are international growth and scale-ups?
  • The role of sustainable practices in internationalization strategies of SMEs and their growth
  • Paradoxes in sustainable value creation and competitive advantage in international markets
  • Institutional perspectives on sustainable entrepreneurship and global business ecosystems
  • Innovation and technology-driven solutions for sustainable international ventures
  • Policy implications and regulatory frameworks for fostering sustainable international entrepreneurship
  • Rethinking global and sustainable supply chain management
  • Perspectives on how international entrepreneurship can assist and tackle climate change adaptation
  • Environmental responsibility and ethical considerations in international entrepreneurship
  • Social entrepreneurship and its impact on sustainable development in global contexts


Guest Editors

Maria Uzhegova,
LUT University, Finland,
[email protected]

Martin Hannibal,
University of Southern Denmark, Denmark,
[email protected]

Olli Kuivalainen,
LUT University, Finland,
[email protected]

Antonella Zucchella,
University of Pavia, Italy,
[email protected]


Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available by clicking the button below.

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Author guidelines must be strictly followed.

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”.

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.


Key Deadlines

Closing date for manuscripts submission: 20 November 2024