Social Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneurship

To Act as if and Make a Difference

Björn Bjerke and Mathias Karlsson

This informative book examines some social entrepreneurs in practice in several countries whilst concentrating on entrepreneurs in the third sector. The authors call them citizen entrepreneurs. Such people are not only becoming more common but also more necessary in the world of today.

Chapter 3: To act as if and make a difference

Björn Bjerke and Mathias Karlsson

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


We have, on a number of occasions, talked about entrepreneurs as people who ‘act as if and make a difference’. Let us try to clarify more exactly what this expression means. We start by discussing the differences between ‘to behave’ and ‘to act’; this will prove to have several similarities with ‘to explain’ and ‘to understand’, which will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 9. If a human activity is seen as behaviour it is looked at as observable, that is, it can be perceived empirically according to classic behaviourism. ‘Behaviour’ is used by many social scientists as an umbrella term for all human activities. This may lead to confusion, however, if it is not clear whether ‘behaviour’ or ‘action’ is referred to. We therefore suggest ‘activity’ as an umbrella term and ‘action’ and ‘behaviour’ as two possible ways to look at human activities. When looking at a human activity as behaviour, all non-observable aspects of this activity are neglected, as it is then necessary to try to explain what is going on using observable ‘stimuli’ and observable ‘responses’. Every object in the environment then represents a potential ‘stimulus’. In empirical research an object is described as a ‘stimulus’ if it gives a behavioural reaction. ‘Response’ is then defined as ‘something a human person does’ (Watson, 1970, p. 6). To reduce human activities to observable processes should, according to the behaviourist Watson and his followers, make a consistent application of (natural) science methods on society possible.

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