Chapter 14: Overcoming inertia: the social question in social entrepreneurship
During the last 10 to 15 years, social entrepreneurship has gained ground as part of a solution to mitigate the crisis of the welfare state. Social scientists, politicians, civil servants, and practitioners in the field, all agree in giving social entrepreneurial initiatives a central role in alleviating the failures of the welfare state (Leadbeater, 1997; Thompson et al., 2000). Some go even further to argue that non-profit organizations and social enterprises are contributing to social innovation, developing new strategies, products, services, and organizational forms that meet previously unmet social needs (Dees and Anderson, 2006). The increase in number and variety of social entrepreneurial initiatives has acquired such a scale that scholars are starting to talk of a “welfare society” (James 1992; Rodger, 2000; Laratta, 2010), policies to regulate and support social enterprises are being developed, foundations are refocusing their funding towards social entrepreneurial initiatives and social entrepreneurs are elevated to the status of heroes in business schools. Much of the allure of social entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurs lies in the belief that introducing market rationalities and modes of operation into the civil society sector will make that sector more effective thus bringing democracy, social progress and social change (Fowler, 2000; Prahalad, 2005). Telling of the entrenchment of this belief is the actual choice of term – “social entrepreneurship” – often reformulating tra ditional civil society initiatives – from women’s groups and ethnic minorities associations to initiatives for the homeless – into “the business of doing good.”
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