Edited by Alain Fayolle and Harry Matlay
Chapter 14: Considering Social Capital in the Context of Social Entrepreneurship
Paul Myers and Teresa Nelson A growing academic and practitioner community is now engaged in lively and, hopefully, fruitful debate on whether and how social entrepreneurship should be distinguished from entrepreneurship generally, and why this may matter. Austin et al. (2006: 2) define social entrepreneurship as ‘innovative, social value creating activity that can occur within or across the non-profit, business, or government sectors’. They make the case for building specific theory about social enterprises based on their inquiry into differences in mission, resource mobilization, performance measurement and the orientation to market failure between models of social and commercial entrepreneurship. Noting that these two models exist on a spectrum rather than as dichotomous positions (that is, social and commercial purpose is mixed for most ventures to some degree), the authors still posit that fundamental distinctions between the two supra-categories recommend that traditional entrepreneurship approaches be carefully considered before they are applied wholesale in the social venture realm. We agree for three reasons. First, social entrepreneurship has been one of the most powerful innovations in economic practice in the last few decades; the breadth and variety of organizations (profit, non-profit, government) that are exploring this territory and its potential implications is sizable and therefore careful analysis is called for (for example, Bornstein, 2004). Second, on a national and global basis, nations and powerful global organizations and systems (for example, financial systems, UN, WTO, World Bank) define the legal territory of commercial and social entrepreneurship in quite different ways, and in newly emerging...
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