Edited by Alain Fayolle and Harry Matlay
Chapter 2: Social Entrepreneurship: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead
Johanna Mair SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: A TREND OR MORE? Social entrepreneurship is trendy! Every year in February social entrepreneurs mingle with the CEOs of the world’s largest corporations and prominent politicians at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Social entrepreneurs are the VIPs at other global events such as the Clinton Global Initiative and they are the favourite investees of the ‘new’ philanthropists: the Jeff Skolls or Bill Gates of this world. Although the academic interest in social entrepreneurship is increasing – calls for special issues are launched; international academic conferences and workshops are organized – research and scholarly investigation into the phenomenon can hardly be regarded as the catalysing force behind the recent momentum on social entrepreneurship. Instead one could argue that it has been elite endorsement of the phenomenon by the leaders of powerful communities – political, business, philanthropic and celebrity – that has stimulated the broad interest in and public exposure to social entrepreneurship as a defining trend of the twenty-first century.1 What is special about social entrepreneurship as a trend is that its diffusion occurs in parallel within different domains, each with separate networks and agendas. Ideas associated with social entrepreneurship have permeated several different spheres of society and kick off development within these realms. In politics, for example, it has inspired proactive legislation for community and social enterprise and debates on the future of the welfare system under the UK’s Blair administration (Grenier, 2009). In association with the label business at the ‘base of the pyramid’ (BOP) it has stimulated...
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