Are Italian Start-Ups ‘Born Sustainable’? A Systems Approach to Sustainability Challenges

  • Francesca Iandolo Sapienza University of Rome
  • Silvia Cosimato University of Naples Federico II
  • Piero Ferrari Acea Group
Keywords: Sustainability; Sustainable development; System theories; Viable Systems Approch (VSA); Start-up.


A number of intricate problems affect the current socio-economic scenarios, which have engaged policy-makers and, above all, entrepreneurs in finding sustainable solutions. Thus, embracing the service system perspective, this work aims at understanding if start-ups have an inner orientation towards sustainability as well as the main element that boost it. To this end, the authors embraced a service ecosystem approach, considering these companies as one of the actors (e.g., employees, customers, incubators, venture capitalists, institutions, etc.) that populate the Italian start-up service ecosystem and which interactions contribute to the ecosystem surviving in the long run. To this end, an empirical and explorative analysis has been conducted to better understand if Italian start-ups are inherently oriented towards sustainability, highlighting the main sustainability drivers that these companies should have since their origin. Although this work represents one of the first attempts to investigate start-ups’ inner disposition towards sustainability, it is somewhat limited by the nature of the analysis, which let to grasp just the economic and social drivers of sustainability. Finally, an agenda for further research has been defined to further advance the achieved results.


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How to Cite
Iandolo, F., Cosimato, S., & Ferrari, P. (2020). Are Italian Start-Ups ‘Born Sustainable’? A Systems Approach to Sustainability Challenges. PuntOorg International Journal, 4(2), 103-118.