Institutional entrepreneurship and driving systems change in the context of the fashion industry - A case study on a Finnish circular fashion brand

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management
63 + 6
Entrepreneurship driven by values other than just financial gains is becoming increasingly popular and a lot of hope is placed on these types of ventures to create solutions for the issues our society is currently facing for example in regards to environmental and social problems. Furthermore, in order to address many of these critical issues, entire global systems need to transform into more sustainable ones, however, these transitions are challenging due to being multi-dimensional, multi-actor, interdependent processes. Value-driven entrepreneurship in pursuit of implementing novel practices and driving wider change within their industries of operation is one form of pursuing this type of large-scale change, nevertheless, not a lot is known about how exactly these entrepreneurs are able to drive change in the industries that they themselves form a part of. Thus, in this paper, entrepreneurship in pursuit of transforming industry practices is explored in further detail to gain a better understanding of the key strategies and characteristics of these types of entrepreneurs as well as the challenges and opportunities that they face. Furthermore, having been identified as a global system urgently needing to undergo change toward more sustainable practices while also providing opportunities for entrepreneurial action to take place, the fashion industry has been chosen as the context for this study. Thus, in order to gain a deeper understanding of how entrepreneurial fashion companies are able to implement wider change within their industry of operation a case study was conducted on a Finnish circular fashion brand. Primary data was collected through a semi-structured interview with the founder and a variety of secondary data was collected to corroborate the data and form a complete narrative of the case. The findings aligned with previous research highlighting the multi-dimensionality and interdependencies of these types of large-scale changes, and further offered deeper insight into the practicalities of enacting change through the key strategies of envisioning and mobilizing allies in support of the change. The findings further point to the need for a deeper understanding of what the ultimate strategies for implementing large-scale change are on a collective level and how coordinated and uncoordinated actions of individual actors come together to drive global systems change.
Thesis advisor
O'Shea, Gregory
institutional entrepreneurship, institutional change, sustainability transitions, circular fashion
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