Edited by Alain Fayolle and Harry Matlay
Chapter 15: Social Entrepreneurs and Earned Income Opportunities: The Dilemma of Earned Income Pursuit
Brett R. Smith, Christopher E. Stevens and Terri F. Barr INTRODUCTION While the increased attention on social entrepreneurship in recent years has done much to illuminate social entrepreneurs and their ventures, less is known about how social entrepreneurs make decisions and the tensions involved in making these decisions. The decision-making process is tension-laden partly because of the potentially conflicting types of value creation and the relative emphasis on each type of value. While commercial entrepreneurs focus primarily on the creation of economic value, the primary focus of social entrepreneurs is the creation of social value.1 However, for many social entrepreneurs, the creation of social value is often facilitated through the creation of economic value, thereby bringing both types of value – social and economic – into close proximity to one another and raising questions about the tensions involved in a dual-value creation process. For one group of social entrepreneurs – those that pursue their entrepreneurship in the form of a non-profit organization – entrepreneurship is often embodied in the pursuit of earned income opportunities (EIOs). While the practice of non-profit organizations engaging in commercial activities is not new, the scope and magnitude of these activities is growing at an increasing rate spurred in part by an increasingly competitive landscape for economic resources (Skloot, 1988). As a result, ‘nonprofit organizations are becoming more dependent on commercial activities, in one form or another’ (Weisbrod, 1998: 16). This increased reliance on EIOs highlights the importance of understanding the tensions involved in the identification and evaluation of EIOs...
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