Academic journal article American Journal of Entrepreneurship

The Social of Social Entrepreneurship: Building a New Field Using a New Paradigm

Academic journal article American Journal of Entrepreneurship

The Social of Social Entrepreneurship: Building a New Field Using a New Paradigm

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Social entrepreneurship is no longer just a topic within business studies but is in many ways emerging as a new field in its own right. Academic research in social entrepreneurship has attracted a wide range of researchers from an array of other disciplines, bringing with them a variety of models, methods and theories with which to investigate and explain entrepreneurship phenomena (Drucker 1989; Nicholls 2006). Indeed, academics engaged in social entrepreneurship research come from a wide variety of perspectives and backgrounds, some of whom have been entrepreneurs, policy makers, or engaged in other forms of entrepreneurship practice. The way social entrepreneurship has been theorized, and its status as an academic discipline has been outlined by academics, reflects some of this diversity, but has been limited in its scope by a range of factors related to its status as an emerging discipline. For example, some academics argue that it is a branch of entrepreneurship, which should use the models, theory and techniques developed by mainstream commercial entrepreneurship research, and imitate its field building approach by directing its attention to achieving research outputs of the type research assessments rate highly (Austin, Stevenson and Wei-Skillern 2006; Thompson, Alvy and Lees 2000). This article instead argues that among the strengths of recent social entrepreneurship research has been the way that different scholars and practitioners have made effective use of its position as a new field or emerging discipline to develop new approaches to research. This research illustrates the way effective engagement between academics and practitioners is able to contribute to the objectives of field building while serving entrepreneurial practices (Steyaert and Hjorth 2006; Mair and Marti 2006). The objectives of this paper are to show that social entrepreneurship is a coherent field rather than a passing fad, and that the way practitioners and researchers engage offers a different approach to academic field building than the methods typically recommended, and generally applied to other academic disciplines. The paper will argue that social entrepreneurship is different from entrepreneurship as it is presently conceived, not because it explores a social "context" of innovation, but because it examines the way innovation, opportunity and entrepreneurship emerge and are pursued through exchanges afforded by networks of heterogeneous organizational types, in contrast to the business, financial and market networks through which conventional entrepreneurship is pursued. This is particularly striking with the emergence of social entrepreneurship through the formation of relationships and alliances between organizations and groups with different motives, structures, decision making protocols, measures and missions (see also Johannisson and Nilsson 1989). Analysing such relationships is important for social entrepreneurship research, but these relationships provide a challenge to various organizations participating in social entrepreneurship practices, such as social welfare providers, academic researchers, activists and social entrepreneurs but, due to the significant growth potential of new types of business opportunities and their impact on consumers and policy makers, such as "green" businesses, new emerging economies and social marketing (see, for example Prahalad 2009: 73-88), they present a challenge to mainstream business and thus researchers concerned with mainstream entrepreneurship.

THE "SOCIAL" OF SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP

The emergence of entrepreneurship as an academic field or discipline has been analyzed by a growing number of commentators (see, for example Gärtner 1985; Low and MacMillan 1988; Shane and Venkataraman 2000; Murphy, Liao and Welsch 2006; Cornelius, Landstrom, and Persson 2006, Peredo and McLean 2006; Reader and Watkins 2006; Zahra 2007). The majority of such evaluations focus primarily, if not exclusively, on the commercial and wealth creating aspects of entrepreneurship. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.