As social entrepreneurs and the enterprises they create gain momentum in the marketplace, research aimed at better understanding the effects of this growing form of social commerce has burgeoned. However, consensus regarding how a social entrepreneur differs from a traditional one or exactly how a social enterprise or social entrepreneurial program differs from other forms of social commerce has not been reached. Indeed, confusions involved in defining social entrepreneurship can hamper attempts to apply the constructs and methods of complexity theory to this burgeoning new arena of “social capital.” To remedy this lack of clarity and, accordingly to more fully grasp the nature of social entrepreneurship, the current paper introduces the diagramic construct of the Social Entrepreneurship Matrix (SEM). Using a systems thinking perspective, the Matrix combines entrepreneurial mission concerns with enterprise profit requirements. It is hoped the interaction that results can serve as a mechanism for better conceptualizing and exploring social commerce.
This paper looks at how ideas, constructs, methods and insights coming out of the sciences of complex systems can be applied to the study of social entrepreneurship. At present, there is no theory that seeks to define social entrepreneurship in complex system terms nor how such a redefinition might contribute to greater positive social outcomes of these kinds of programs. To remedy this, we propose ways that complexity theory can be used to develop useful, and we hope, what is ultimately, a more practical theory. In particular, we explore how complexity ideas might be used to develop a robust theory of social dynamics and of how the mechanisms of social entrepreneurship might be better understood as a practical approach for generating well-defined positive social outcomes. After describing various possibilities, some hopeful thoughts on the future of the field are offered. There is nothing more practical than a good theory. Kurt Lewin
Introduction Defining social entrepreneurship has proven to be a challenging task (see Massetti; Seitanidi; and Trexler all in this volume as well as: Chell, 2007; Roberts & Woods 2005; Austin et al., 2006; Dorado, 2006). However, two things are common across the plethora of definitions emerging over the past two decades: 1) an underlying drive […]
Introduction Since the early 1990s, the Republic of Ireland has enjoyed sustained economic growth and development. With the transformation of the economy and the expectations of citizens as to what it can deliver, analysts have sought to explain the ‘miracle’. In that process, attention has been turned to individual role models, examples of excellence and […]
This paper presents an instance of failed large scale social innovation from a cross sector social partnership even though the partnership seemed to succeed in its narrow mission. The mechanisms that led to less than complete success can shed light on the reasons behind the failure of social change mechanisms. The case study presented is between a non-profit organization and a business. It demonstrates that when the strategic intent of the social actors is prescriptive, it imprisons the possibilities for fundamental change. This limitation is due to the pre-defined relatively narrow responsibilities associated with different individual or social agents. The paper is calling to move beyond reactive and proactive responsibilities and to shift towards accepting adaptive responsibilities that require a multidimensional understanding towards all three levels of analysis, micro, meso and macro. Adaptive responsibilities is an empowering approach based on the coevolution of organizational actors. It holds the seeds of reciprocal multi-level change.
Social enterprise is charity’s web 2.0—a would-be revolution as open to interpretation as a Rorschach blot. For social enterprise to be more than the latest passing fad in doing good, we need a rigorous re-assessment of the link between system dynamics and social institutions. To that end this article has three distinct yet related aims. First, I want to offer a new definition of social enterprise, one that reflects its essential nature as a simple rule with complex results. Besides re-defining social enterprise, my next goal is to provide an explanation for organizational altruism that goes beyond latching onto the latest popular trends. My alternative approach is to find the basis for corporate charity within corporate identity itself—in particular, the historic function of organizational form as a means of modeling emergent patterns. This article’s final aim is to explain how social enterprise can have its greatest sustainable impact—by making itself obsolete.
Social Change begins as an individual undertaking. Within our understanding of emergence, it could be no other way. The “I” must change before the “We” can successfully interact and afford an emergent change. There is no “US” changing “THEM.” There is “I” changing and “We” interacting from that changed perspective. What emerges from that is […]