Smart Citizens, Wise Decisions: Sustainability-Driven Tourism Entrepreneurs

Smart Citizens, Wise Decisions: Sustainability-Driven Tourism Entrepreneurs

Maria de Lurdes Calisto (Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies, Portugal) and Ana Gonçalves (Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies, Portugal & Centre for Geographical Studies, Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1978-2.ch002
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This chapter takes as its research starting point a critical and convergent review and reexamination of existing theory and knowledge about entrepreneurship and sustainability. We question whether smart cities provide the ideal context for sustainability entrepreneurship (SE) to emerge and how sustainability-driven entrepreneurs can contribute to the development of smarter and more sustainable tourism destinations. Hence, we examine SE tourism and hospitality businesses implemented by these so-called ‘smart citizens' in Lisbon (Portugal), a city that arguably provides the necessary context for smart decisions to flourish. This chapter thus aims at opening up new modes of inquiry and questioning existing epistemologies on the study of smart cities and entrepreneurship that help breaking new ground about the role of entrepreneurs in the tourism activity.
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Most societies are nowadays facing a paradoxical situation. On one hand, sustainability is arguably the main concern of the current and certainly many future generations at a global scale. On the other hand, the pressure to create jobs and guarantee reasonable well-being for populations has led to the belief that entrepreneurship lies at the forefront of economic development. However, continuous economic growth is many times viewed as unsustainable, at the environmental level and many times also at the social level. Is there a way to overcome this paradox? Some scholars propose sustainability entrepreneurship as a possible compromise. This principle understands sustainability in all its forms and goes hand in hand with a focus on companies’ responsibility towards the planet, society and the consumer.

This chapter will question whether smart cities provide the ideal context for sustainable entrepreneurship (SE) to emerge and how sustainability-driven entrepreneurs can contribute to the development of smarter and more sustainable tourism destinations. Hence, we will examine grassroots initiatives undertaken by these so-called smart citizens within the context of tourism and hospitality in Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, which we believe that, although it is not considered as a smart city according to the standards defined by the EU (European Parliament, 2014), presents, nevertheless, the cultural and creative entrepreneurial context that facilitates the development of innovative ideas. Indeed, Lisbon has been accoladed as one of the most attractive European capital destinations which has led to the development of many tourism-related businesses in recent years, many of which showing sustainability concerns and a reinvention of Portuguese traditions.

Entrepreneurship: Opportunities, Entrepreneurs, and Effects

For the last two decades, more and more researchers have become interested in entrepreneurship following the work of Schumpeter (1934) and Kirzner (1973). However, entrepreneurship has been considered as an elusive concept (Carree & Thurik, 2003; Shane & Venkataraman, 2000). Some of the difficulties around the concept rest on the fact that many scholars define entrepreneurship in relation to the entrepreneur. However, two phenomena are involved in entrepreneurship –

  • The entrepreneur and

  • The existence of an opportunity.

A common definition of entrepreneurship is that advanced by Shane and Venkataraman (2000):

Entrepreneurship focuses on identifying new opportunities for creating value for customers or users, and commercially developing those opportunities to establish a profitable business.

We argue, however, that entrepreneurship does not have to be limited to business creation. Wennekers and Thurik (1999) propose that entrepreneurship is the manifest ability and willingness of individuals or teams, within an established organization or independently, to perceive and create opportunities, albeit facing uncertainty and other obstacles, and to introduce their ideas in the market, by making decisions on location, form and the use of resources and institutions. Entrepreneurship is not synonymous to new business creation, neither is the entrepreneur synonymous to a business owner. For instance, intrapreneurs1 are a type of entrepreneurs.

In the entrepreneurship literature, three roles are usually attributed to entrepreneurs:

  • 1.

    The role of the innovator – the individuals whose function is to carry new combinations are called entrepreneurs (Schumpeter, 1934);

  • 2.

    The role of perceiving opportunities (Kirzner, 1997); and,

  • 3.

    The role of assuming risks (Knight, 1921).

By performing these roles, entrepreneurs have a relevant effect on economic growth, as it has been demonstrated by several empirical studies (Audretsch & Fritsch, 2002; Carree & Thurik, 1998, 1999).

We recognize the relevance of entrepreneurship to the economy, adding that entrepreneurship does not have to be limited to its associations with economic growth or profit-making, since its effects may be significantly overreaching. We do maintain, however, that entrepreneurs are the engine of innovation and creative destruction.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Corporate Social Responsibility: Commitment by businesses to be socially responsible towards employees and their families, and towards society at large, while still meeting long-term profit goals.

Smart Tourism Destination: A smart tourism destination is one that responds to the requirements of the present global and mobile elites by facilitating access to tourism and hospitality products, services, spaces and experiences through ICT-based tools and where a healthy social and cultural environment can be found through a focus on the city’s social and human capital. On the other hand, it also implements innovative and entrepreneurial businesses and fosters the interconnectedness of businesses.

Sustainable Development: Development that benefits current generations without compromising the ability for future generations to meet their own needs.

Smart City: The quality of smartness applied to cities is a multiscaling concept and one that has been subjected to many definitions. The one adopted in this chapter understands a smart city as a city whose citizens (residents and workers) conceive of innovative and sustainable ideas to the city experience, at different levels, thus contributing to smart living in all its forms, urban, social, cultural, economic and environmental. This experience is often enhanced by the instrumental role of ICT in many areas of city living (transportation, communication, waste management, among others), wise governance and more sustainable mobility options.

Sustainability Entrepreneurship: Market-oriented form of value creation through environmental and social innovations, and driven by the personal motivation of the entrepreneur. Sustainable entreprenurs still have a responsibility towards their shareholders, but also to society, nature and future generations.

Smart Citizens: Within the purview of this chapter, smart citizens are people who make wise and sustainable business decisions that contribute to the general quality of life of populations and the spaces they occupy.

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