Edited by Elizabeth Chell and Mine Karataş-Özkan
Chapter 21: Social entrepreneurship: looking back, moving ahead
While scholarly enquiries of social entrepreneurship (SE) and social innovation may be in their infancy, the practice of individuals, partnerships and community groups working together in innovative ways to identify and implement creative solutions to long-standing, complex social problems is not new. Growing research efforts to investigate the use of entrepreneurial activities for the pursuit of social gains is matched by increasing media and government interests in the capacity and potential for social entrepreneurs to identify innovative solutions, which address enduring social problems. A key driver of current government enthusiasm for social entrepreneurs, SE and social innovation are the increasingly liberal, arms-length ideologies underpinning recent policy platforms such as the Big Society in the UK and policy initiatives including Obama's Social Innovation Fund, which is designed to find and help 'scale' the best social innovations in the US. Combined with the imperative to address considerable holes in public finances, political leaders the world over are keen to understand the potential for social entrepreneurs and social innovation to help the global economy recover from the fall-out of the worst financial crisis experienced since the Great Depression. This chapter critically considers growing research interest in activities and engagement in the entrepreneurial process for social and public rather than individual financial gains. Its overall contribution is the provision of a rigorous overview not only of the phenomenon of SE but also of the closely aligned topic of social innovation.
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