Social Policy in a Developing World

Social Policy in a Developing World

Edited by Rebecca Surender and Robert Walker

This volume provides a critical analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing social protection systems in the global south, and examines current strategies for addressing poverty and welfare needs in the region. In particular, the text explores the extent to which the analytic models and concepts for the study of social policy in the industrialised North are relevant in a developing country context. The volume analyses the various institutions, actors, instruments and mechanisms involved in the welfare arrangements of developing countries and provides a study of the contexts, development and future trajectory of social policy in the global South.

Chapter 10: The social entrepreneurship–social policy nexus in developing countries

Alex Nicholls

Subjects: development studies, development studies, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, social policy in emerging countries


Over recent years there has been growing practitioner, policy and academic interest in a set of organizational activities and outputs characterized as ‘social enterprise’ and – more recently – ‘social innovation’ (Nicholls and Murdock 2011). United by a common definitional haziness under the umbrella of ‘social entrepreneurship’, these terms have, nevertheless, entered the normative lexicon of organizations as diverse as Citibank, the World Economic Forum, the United Nations’ Development Programme, the Gates Foundation and the British Conservative Party, among many others. The advocates of social entrepreneurship suggest that its combination of boundary-spanning organizational forms with a strong mission focus allows it to address ‘social’ market failures equally well across the private, civil society and public sectors. Thus, from a commercial perspective social entrepreneurship can create new market opportunities at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ (Prahalad 2005; Karamchandani et al. 2009) as a natural extension of socially responsible investing practices (Freireich and Fulton 2009). In this context, social enterprises are ‘businesses with a social purpose’ (DTI 2002) that can overcome the free-rider issues associated with the creation of social and public goods by reconfiguring commercial markets to capture economic value as a by-product of creating social value. Within civil society, social entrepreneurship can offer a new arena for hybrid partnerships (Austin 2004; Austin et al. 2006), a model of political transformation and empowerment (Alvord et al. 2004), or even a driver of systemic social change (Nicholls 2006; Martin and Osberg 2007).

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