Edited by Gordon E. Shockley, Peter M. Frank and Roger R. Stough
Chapter 11: Social Entrepreneurs: A Neoclassical Theory
Simon C. Parker INTRODUCTION A growing body of research highlights the scale and importance of nonmarket entrepreneurship. A central premise of this book is that despite growing interest in this phenomenon, serious gaps in our knowledge remain. The present chapter explores one gap in particular, relating to the people who create and operate non-market enterprises – people I shall call ‘social entrepreneurs’ in this chapter. I ask the following questions: What kinds of people become social entrepreneurs? Why do they choose to participate in non-market rather than market activities? Are people more likely to become social entrepreneurs at particular points in their lives? And if so when? The present chapter contains a novel theoretical framework designed to answer these questions. The extant literature on social and not-for-proﬁt entrepreneurship contains little by way of theory on these issues, so I believe that such a contribution may be timely. In an excellent recent survey, Haugh (2006) draws attention to various motives of people driven to become social entrepreneurs. These motives include the articulation of one’s beliefs; making a contribution to society; and realizing a dream or vision. There are also various claims that social entrepreneurs possess particular character traits (Drucker, 1989; Leadbeater, 1997; Bornstein, 1998; Prabhu, 1999; Thompson et al., 2000). However, there is little agreement about what exactly those traits might be. Weisbrod (1988: 32–33) cites some evidence that managers of non-proﬁt enterprises may attach greater importance to being cheerful, forgiving, and helpful than managers of forproﬁts – who...
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