Handbook of Research on Social Entrepreneurship
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Handbook of Research on Social Entrepreneurship

Edited by Alain Fayolle and Harry Matlay

This timely Handbook provides an empirically rigorous overview of the latest research advances on social entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs and enterprises. It incorporates seventeen original chapters on definitions, concepts, contexts and strategy, including a critical overview and an agenda for future research in social entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 8: The Intertwining of Social, Commercial and Public Entrepreneurship

Elisabeth Sundin and Malin Tillmar


Elisabeth Sundin and Malin Tillmar 1 INTRODUCTION The strong connection between entrepreneurship and the private sector has resulted in entrepreneurship in other sectors being underestimated (Sundin and Tillmar, 2007). This leads to theoretical, practical and political shortcomings, as entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs are important for the development of society in other ways than through starting businesses, for example through effecting change. Thus, research on social entrepreneurship is vital in order to re-contextualize the phenomenon of entrepreneurship. However, even in this field there are taken-for-granted assumptions which may be challenged. By doing this, our ambition is to contribute methodological and theoretical input to the field of social entrepreneurship studies. In this chapter we have drawn on Schumpeter (1934 [1994]) and argue that entrepreneurship exists in all kinds of organizations (but not in all organizations) and apply the statement to the social entrepreneurship field. Obviously, there is a ‘need to move beyond not-for-profit research’ (Anderson and Dees, 2006: 155). As Austin et al. (2006) noted, ‘social and commercial entrepreneurship is not dichotomous, but rather more accurately conceptualized as endpoints on a continuum ranging from purely social to purely economic. Even at the extremes, however, there are still elements of both’ (p. 3). To this, we would like to add that social entrepreneurship is also to be found in the public sector, in what has been termed ‘public entrepreneurship’. Again, as phrased by Austin et al. (2006) ‘We define social entrepreneurship as an innovative, social value creating activity that can occur within or across...

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