Handbook of Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development Research
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Handbook of Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development Research

Edited by Paula Kyrö

Allying and expanding the diverse fields of entrepreneurship and sustainable development research is a modern day imperative. This Handbook paints an illuminating picture of the historic and current understanding of the bond between entrepreneurship and sustainable development. The authors explore the basic contradictions between the two fields and outline the transformative role entrepreneurship can play in achieving sustainable development. More than 50 expert researchers and their research communities from 16 countries across Europe, Africa, Australia, North America, and the Middle East provide original and informative contributions on a variety of issues, from women’s empowerment to climate change and organic farmers to ecotourism.
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Chapter 5: Organizing societal entrepreneurship: a cross-sector challenge

Bengt Johannisson, Anders W. Johansson, Elisabeth Sundin, Karin Berglund, Erik Rosell and Birgitta Schwartz


As clearly demonstrated by for example Nicholls (2010), the majority of approaches to entrepreneurship as a social phenomenon, more specifically to ‘social entrepreneurship’, position the phenomenon against business venturing. Others, notably Dey and Steyaert (2010), argue that entrepreneurship in general and social entrepreneurship in particular should be kept open to different understandings. A nuanced vocabulary may guide such an ambition. Here we thus put forward ‘societal entrepreneurship’ as such an open concept. This to our mind focuses on entrepreneurship as a mode of organizing rather than on the ends and means of non-commercial innovative activity that are usually targeted in social entrepreneurship research. Specifically, we argue that societal entrepreneurship as creative organizing occurs at the intersections between the private, public, and non-profit and voluntary (NPVO) sectors. Social and societal entrepreneurship of course have similarities, such as a social intention and concern for shortcomings in society and its formal institutions. But there are also differences between the two phenomena which invite different conceptual frameworks as well as methodologies. First, societal entrepreneurship embraces change on both the macro level, for example institutions, and on the micro level – that is, in people’s everyday life. Dependent on sector, people are identified as customers, clients or citizens; that is, demanding, docile or concerned individuals with varying rights and obligations. Social entrepreneurship, in contrast, often focuses on the (formal) organization level.

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