Societal Entrepreneurship

Societal Entrepreneurship

Positioning, Penetrating, Promoting

Edited by Karin Berglund, Bengt Johannisson and Birgitta Schwartz

Stating the importance of both the local and the broader societal context, the book reports close-up studies from a variety of social ventures. Generic themes include positioning societal entrepreneurship against other images of collective entrepreneurship, critically penetrating its assumptions and practices and proposing ways of promoting societal entrepreneurship more widely.

Chapter 9: Translating entrepreneurship into the education setting–a case of societal entrepreneurship

Carina A. Holmgren

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, development studies, social entrepreneurship, politics and public policy, social entrepreneurship


The year was 2004 when, in my new role as a research assistant at a Swedish foundation for small business research, I was confronted with the concept of ‘entrepreneurship’ and made my first stumbling efforts to learn about the entrepreneurship field. As responsible for mapping initiatives concerning entrepreneurship among young students I was working with a comprehensive survey study comprising nearly all the Swedish primary and secondary schools (Lundström, 2005). The response rate was not overwhelming and some of the schools made comments and even questioned their participation in the study–they could not see any connection between what they were doing and the entrepreneurship concept. ‘Why us?’ one confused headmaster asked, ‘Don’t you know we are a humanistic school?’ To ask the staff at this school if it was using the words ‘entrepreneurship’ or ‘enterprising’ as a description of some of their pedagogic activities would not render any answer. However, I also met and interviewed several inspiring actors who were involved in the process to stimulate teachers to work with entrepreneurship. These actors were often external to the schools as well as to the whole traditional educational system, representing for example private firms, non-profit interest organizations, and EU-funded projects. Recurrently, these actors described their difficulties with using the ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘enterprising’ concepts when trying to offer activities to sceptical teachers and principals. One of these actors I met for an interview in the late summer of 2003. As we sat in the warming sun he told me the project’s stories of success but also about the problems they had encountered when using the concepts. ‘The words enterprising and entrepreneurship have made many [of those who work in the schools] afraid and there are still many who don’t know [that it is not only about business].

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