Academic journal article Business Renaissance Quarterly

Social Entrepreneurship: Values-Based Leadership to Transform Business Education and Society

Academic journal article Business Renaissance Quarterly

Social Entrepreneurship: Values-Based Leadership to Transform Business Education and Society

Article excerpt


Social entrepreneurship is a natural expression of visionary leadership, the spiritually and ethically-based mission to seek the common good, and the virtual necessity to create sustainability for both people and planet. Business skills and visionary organizational leadership provide the synergy needed to create new paradigms which meet the vast societal needs not easily addressed under current business models. A new group of culturally creative change agents exhibiting a robust form of social entrepreneurship may prove to be more capable of assisting basic human needs than either the government or the existing stockholder model of capitalism.


"Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry. "

Bill Drayton, CEO, chair and founder of Ashoka, a global nonprofit organization devoted to developing the profession of social entrepreneurship (2006, p. 3).

A new paradigm for management education is taking form within the untapped market niche of serving real societal needs without producing "good" profit margins. Part of this new thinking intersects the tools of traditional entrepreneurship with small-scale economic and community development.

Traditional entrepreneurship requires the bui Id i ngin of all the high-margin criteria associated with the values of maximizing profits above all else. Therefore, if clean water does not pay, little venture capital is available for the project. This dilemma leaves the playing field open either to governments or the most viable non-governmental organizations who often, to one degree or another, also embrace versions of free- market principles. Social entrepreneurship acts as a useful third path which is more efficient than governments, and is frequently able to go further into niche community needs than large non- profits.

In its broadest form, social entrepreneurship offers the business knowledge, skills and insights necessary for the vast arena of projects and problems which are not easily addressed by the traditional market models (Drayton, 2006). Many small non-profits are strengthening their effectiveness by designi ng-i ? the use of the entrepreneurial model for their business plans and leadership strategies. Developing economies are also adopting initiatives to assist low-income communities everywhere. Over the years, entrepreneurial nonprofits have impacted society at such an extraordinary level that Crutchfield and Grant (2008) identify the segment of "pioneering change makers" as "the vanguard of a growing civic sector" (p. 1).

Many government business support services and allied non-governmental organizations have adopted public-private partnerships designed to empower undercapitalized community groups via the business model described as social entrepreneurship. Business school curricula are now adding a specific course dealing with social entrepreneurship to the growing and quite popular courses in traditional entrepreneurship. Equally, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, a quarterly publica - tion, is pioneering a powerful interdisciplinary scholarship, which connects business education and many other disciplines in an academic and professional crossfertilization that presents new careers for business graduates (Light, 2006).

Pioneering Applications of Business Concepts for Societal Purposes

A visionary leader or creative non-profit often launches a business model that operates initially with modest seed money and a mission to fill a societal need. These ventures do not attract funding from the for-profit sector because the margins are nil or very slim. In a world where big money is God, there remains limited access to capital and the promise it holds.

As the leading world association of over 2,000 social entrepreneurs, Ashoka is an organization that supports fellows who spread the ideas and services made possible by the various business models utilized in fulfilling unmet human needs. …

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