- Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Paula Kyrö
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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