Edited by Alain Fayolle and Harry Matlay
Chapter 1: Social Entrepreneurship: A Multicultural and Multidimensional Perspective
Alain Fayolle and Harry Matlay The current financial crisis and its global consequences have increased the need to position social questions at the heart of the economy. We believe that entrepreneurship can be an important way to restore a better balance between economic purposes and social well-being. Indeed, entrepreneurship can be a great source of economic value creation, but it can also be (or at least should be) a means to contribute to greater social justice. This concept seems to be gaining momentum, both in theory and practice, with the emergence of a new field of research: ‘social entrepreneurship’. Entrepreneurship is a multidimensional phenomenon and is shaped by the context in which it operates. The entrepreneurial process, generally defined as ‘how, by whom and with what effects opportunities to create new goods and services are discovered, evaluated and exploited’ (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000), is very much conditioned by the level of economic development and the cultural, political and social contexts in which it appears (Atamer and Torres, 2008). It is common knowledge, for example, that entrepreneurship in developing countries, or countries in transition, is quantitatively and qualitatively different from what we observe in most industrially developed countries. The main vocation of social entrepreneurship – besides new venture creation with a social purpose – is to meet social and societal needs that have not yet been addressed by the state or the commercial sector (Alvord et al., 2004; Thompson, 2002). Unlike the commercial and capitalistic economy, which is narrowly concerned with meeting strictly...
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