Theory and Empirical Research in Social Entrepreneurship

Theory and Empirical Research in Social Entrepreneurship

The Johns Hopkins University series on Entrepreneurship

Edited by Phillip H. Phan, Jill Kickul, Sophie Bacq and Mattias Nordqvist

Scholars and policy makers have long recognized entrepreneurship as a powerful engine of economic growth. There is clear evidence, however, that when it comes to social entrepreneurship, policy attention has not been matched by growth in scholarly research. This volume illustrates the type of empirical effort that must take place for the field to advance.

Chapter 1: Research in social entrepreneurship: from historical roots to future routes

Huriye Aygören

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship


The social entrepreneurship literature has emerged as a coherent body of knowledge in recent years and is growing at a tremendous pace. As noted by many authors, despite being a nascent field, research in social entrepreneurship has demonstrated great enthusiasm for and the potential to tackle many open issues in the theoretical (Nicholls, 2010) and societal domains (Mair and Marti, 2006; Mair et al., 2012). Earlier reviews have provided the theoretical and methodological topography of the field and have noted the field's highly fragmented nature across disciplines (Short et al., 2009; Dacin et al., 2010; Nicholls, 2010; Dacin et al., 2011). In this review, I use a 'structuration' approach to take stock of the knowledge developed within the management and business scholarships on social entrepreneurship. To this end, I reviewed the articles retrieved from the top 100 management and business journals indexed in the ISI Web of Knowledge Database (see Appendix 1). After reviewing this core literature, I added other literature cited by the authors around the core themes that emerge. In total my review draws from about a hundred and fifty articles. I find that the fundamental questions related to the rationale of social entrepreneurship and the ones that concern the definitional aspects of the social entrepreneurship are still very much in a work in progress.

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