is Social Entrepreneurship?
Social entrepreneurship is the process of recognizing and relentlessly
pursuing opportunities to create social value. Social entrepreneurs
are innovative, resourceful, and results oriented. They draw upon
the best thinking in both the business and nonprofit worlds to develop
strategies that maximize their social impact. These entrepreneurial
leaders operate in all kinds of organizations: large and small;
new and old; religious and secular; nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid.
These organizations comprise the "social sector."
Peter Drucker introduced the term “social sector” in
Post-Capitalist Society when he discussed the need for
a sector in addition to the “private sector” of business
and the “public sector” of government to satisfy social
needs and provide a meaningful sense of citizenship and community.
For our purposes, social sector organizations include any organization
whose primary goal is to create value that cannot be reduced to
economic wealth for owners or consumption benefits for customers,
whether it is related to the promotion of good for human society,
animals, or the natural environment.
For a more in-depth discussion of social entrepreneurship, please
download Professor Greg Dees's paper, The
Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship.
What Social Entrepreneurship is NOT
At the same time that social entrepreneurship is gaining in popularity,
many business leaders, business schools, and MBA students are increasingly
interested in issues surrounding "corporate social responsibility,"
"sustainable enterprise," 'business ethics," or "social
impact management." While at times complementary, we see these
topics as distinct from social entrepreneurship and do not focus
on them as part of CASE's primary activities. For a thoughtful discussion
of the relationship between social entrepreneurship and social impact
management, see Mary Gentile's paper for the Aspen Institute's Initiative
for Social Innovation through Business (ISIB): Social
Impact Management and Social Enterprise: Two Sides of the Same Coin
or a Totally Different Currency?
In the nonprofit sector, many people also consider social entrepreneurship,
or social enterprise, to refer exclusively to income generating
nonprofit activities, quite often in the form of nonprofit business
ventures. While the adoption of earned income strategies is certainly
a popular trend within the field of social entrepreneurship, and
a tool used by many social entrepreneurs, CASE does not espouse
this narrow definition of social entrepreneurship and rather focuses
more broadly on innovative, resourceful, and opportunity-oriented
responses to social issues, problems, and challenges. We see social
entrepreneurship not as a specific tool, method or type of program,
but rather as an approach to creating social value that embraces
the fundamental principles of entrepreneurship.