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 7: Social entrepreneurial leadership: creating opportunities for autonomy

Jeroen Maas, Anastasia A. Seferiadis, Joske F.G. Bunders and Marjolein B.M. Zweekhorst

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship


'From partnership to ownership and beyond' was one of the inspiring foci of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) report 'Capacity Development: new solutions to old problems' (UNDP, 2002, p. 14) which emphasised that capacity development, transferring ownership to the poor, finding new solutions and creating new opportunities represent the way forward in the development of marginalised groups. Since the publication of this report in 2002, this emphasis on self-reliance has received increasing support with, for example, Moyo (2010) strongly advocating entrepreneurship as a way in which people can get out of their position of dependency. Many others argue that entrepreneurship could be an answer for the many problems in developing countries (Gries and Naudé, 2009). Entrepreneurship has been described as an engine of economic growth (Austin et al., 2006), and the most successful approach to overcoming poverty at the grassroots level (Dixon and Clifford, 2007; Kolawole and Torimiro, 2005). There are 'a growing number of initiatives all over the globe [that] seem to be defying the obstacles that have prevented businesses from providing services to the poor' (Seelos and Mair, 2005a, p. 242). These initiatives have collectively been dubbed 'social entrepreneurship' (ibid). Social entrepreneurs connect social and economic aims sustainably in their activities (Basu, 2012; Zahra et al., 2009) and social entrepreneurship is considered to be especially relevant in developing countries with their intertwined socio-economic and environmental challenges (Babu and Pinstrup-Andersen, 2007).

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