The Social Enterprise Zoo

The Social Enterprise Zoo

A Guide for Perplexed Scholars, Entrepreneurs, Philanthropists, Leaders, Investors, and Policymakers

Edited by Dennis R. Young, Elizabeth A.M. Searing and Cassady V. Brewer

The Social Enterprise Zoo employs the metaphor of the zoo to gain a more comprehensive understanding of social enterprise – especially the diversity of its forms; the various ways it is organized in different socio-political environments; how different forms of enterprise behave, interact, and thrive; and what lessons can be drawn for the future development and study of organizations that seek to balance social or environmental impact with economic success. Recommended for students, researchers, policymakers, entrepreneurs and managers of social purpose organizations.

Chapter 7: The role of social entrepreneurs in the social enterprise zoo

Dennis R. Young and Jesse D. Lecy

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, non-profits


Social entrepreneurs in the role of curators are instrumental in selecting what animals are in the zoo and which remain outside. Our analysis considers alternative concepts of entrepreneurship including entrepreneurs as builders of conventional new enterprises vs Schumpeterian innovators. More broadly, a full variety of entrepreneurial styles and motivations is examined, teasing out implications for matching entrepreneurial types to the alternative forms of social enterprise forms that entrepreneurs can bring into the zoo. In particular, we consider the implications of the mix of Schumpeterian vs conventional entrepreneurs for the degree of innovation associated with social enterprise as well as the likely choices of legal forms of enterprise that social entrepreneurs of varying styles and motives bring into the zoo. Finally, given the diverse character of entrepreneurs that are likely to select into the social enterprise zoo, we consider the variety of fauna likely to characterize the zoo over time, in terms of their size, fields of service, and relations with government and business.

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