Food systems in transition: conceptualizing sustainable food entrepreneurship

Koen van der Gaast*, Eveline van Leeuwen, Sigrid Wertheim-Heck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the sustainable food entrepreneurship framework (SFEF). It aims to further the understanding of the role of entrepreneurship in the sustainability transition of the food system, especially in the context of food system re-localization. The framework conceptualizes sustainable food entrepreneurship as a cyclical ongoing process of change. We argue this enables transcending the behaviour of entrepreneurs and their enterprises and map the ongoing development they fit into. The framework is based on literature reviews and expert interviews in the Dutch city-region of Almere–Flevoland. Theoretically, it expands on effectuation and bricolage theory, i.e. the ‘resourcefulness perspective’, that centres the socio-material context in the entrepreneurial process. The framework assumes the uncertainty of sustainability incites a cyclical process of change and implores entrepreneurs to reflect on the past before imagining the future. These imagined futures must be fitted to the socio-material context before emerging as artefacts (e.g. products, services or firms), which incites new uncertainties and a new cycle of change. Our framework has implications for policy and science. Its temporal dimension, that accentuates the continuous change entrepreneurship spurs, incites a reevaluation of terms such as ‘success’ and ‘failure’. Moreover, it stresses the importance of intermediary actors in facilitating entrepreneurship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-721
JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
Issue number5
Early online date27 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2022


  • Almere
  • entrepreneurship
  • Flevoland
  • food
  • sustainability


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