Thanks to the fieldwork of our students Isabel Miralles, Pintip Sevikul and Charlotte Walther (Wageningen University) and our partner Dr. Giuseppina Migliore (University of Palermo), we observed members' practices in 31 food and energy communities around Europe for more than 5 years - in Italy, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
Through this journey, we had an epiphany: in (some) informal contexts of sharing, consumers get entrepreneurial!
What do we mean with that?
Similar to business entrepreneurs, consumer entrepreneurs recombine resources innovatively to seek opportunities for value.
Yet, differently from business entrepreneurs, consumer entrepreneurs aim to create user value - for themselves and others in their community (e.g., good food, more sustainable and/or cheaper energy) - as opposed to create exchange value - for others in exchange of a reward.
So, through informal sharing, consumers recuperate and celebrate the original meaning of entrepreneurship (Shane and Ventakaraman 2000) - that is, entrepreneurship as a social practice and not exclusively as a business practice.
Starting from here, in this research we started exploring when, how and why consumer entrepreneurship takes place.
This has implications for practice and theory:
1. Members in food and energy communities (and other frugal sharing communities) can work on their entrepreneurial competencies to improve their own well-being and the one of their family and community. A well-being not based on exchanging something to gain rewards from others, but a well-being based on experimenting the best possible uses of available resources as a collectivity.
2. Many academic circles around agro-ecology, sociology and community development often look at entrepreneurship as a "mean thing". But this comes from a misperception of what entrepreneurship actually is, i.e. recombining resource innovatively to create various forms of value - not only to make money. This opens up highways for thinking and practicing how to purposively use entrepreneurship to stimulate value creation in communities "for the good".
3. We explain in the chapter how consumer entrepreneurship differs ontologically from other uses of the term entrepreneurship: user entrepreneurship, community-based entrepreneurship and even social/sustainable entrepreneurship.
See the abstract of this book chapter here below and, in case that you have no access to the full-text, please ask it to us via ResearchGate: