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Social Entrepreneurship What does it mean and how useful is the concept?

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Presentation on theme: "Social Entrepreneurship What does it mean and how useful is the concept?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Entrepreneurship What does it mean and how useful is the concept?

2 Idealisation  ‘too few men and women here in Britain - a third less than the proportion in the US - have started or grown a business or become self-employed and so it is time to remove the financial, cultural and other barriers to enterprise so that in Britain starting a business becomes the ambition not just of an elite few but of many …the greatest constraint on the growth of Britain's productivity and prosperity today is now our failure to realise the educational and entrepreneurial potential of our own people’.  Gordon Brown, Mansion House speech 2002

3 And Social Entrepreneurs?  Social entrepreneurship is not a new phenomenon. Whilst it may represent a newly coined term, it is hardly a novel concept. Innovative individuals and enterprising groups have been addressing social issues for centuries, as is demonstrated by the activities of extraordinary public innovators such as Florence Nightingale, Susan B. Anthony, and Mahatma Gandhi, as well as the collective efforts of groups like the Rochdale Pioneers, the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

4 A typical example of blurring In these examples, the individual or groups acted as catalysts challenging the status quo by identifying an apparently insoluble social problem and tackling it with tenacity and vision. Their outstanding leadership towards a social end and their ability to see opportunities where others saw only hurdles further single out these charismatic figures. (Nicholls, 2005: 2).

5 A critical view of entrepreneurship


7 What do people really think? The entrepreneur as defined by British TV comedies: a study in semiotics and iconography: 'understanding the entrepreneur as socially constructed'. Smith, R. (2006), ‘Towards a More Mature Entrepreneurial Iconology’, paper presented to the 29th ISBE conference in Cardiff, 31 Oct. to 2 Nov.

8 Arthur Daly as ‘Flash Harry’

9 Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses

10 Loadsamoney

11 Chris the ‘Crafty Cockney’

12 Aren’t they all ‘crafty cockneys’?  What can we say about education and class?  Popular image is associated with London  Conflation between enterprise and criminality?  Link between the icon of the entrepreneur and the barrow boy

13 How useful is the management literature? Burns, P. (2001), Entrepreneurship and Small Business (Basingstoke: Palgrave)

14  AttributeManifestation (mainstream economy)  IndependenceIndividualism  AchievementProfitability and longevity of business; growth  Profit driveMaximum financial return  Risk-takingBorrowing money; moving into new sectors  OpportunismIdentifying new sectors  InnovationExploring new technologies or management techniques  ConfidenceAbility to ‘go it alone’ sometimes against expert advice  EnergyWillingness to work long hours, travel widely  Self-motivationCreating own job rather than seeking work through application  VisionForseeing future business developments

15  AttributeManifestation (sustainable economy)  IndependenceInsulation of community against destructive forces of globalisation  AchievementSustainability  ProfitabilitySufficient surplus to ensure continuation of business activity  Risk-takingBalancing job survival against innovation  OpportunismIdentifying new sectors  InnovationExploring new forms of organization structure  ConfidenceBased on mutual support  EnergyWillingness to work long hours  Self-motivationBased on mutual support  VisionForeseeing and envisioning environmental sustainability

16 Williams, C. C. (2006), The Hidden Enterprise Culture: Entrepreneurship in the Underground Economy (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar), chap. 2.  Three classic requirement of the entrepreneur are:  to prioritise the accumulation of money;  to spot opportunities;  to innovate. The inadequacy of the standard view is demonstrated by the need to develop sub-categories.

17 Defining social entrepreneurship  Entrepreneurs are ‘change agents in the economy. By serving new markets or creating new ways of doing things, they move the economy forward’ (Dees, 1998).  Social entrepreneurship reaches the parts of society other policy initiatives do not reach, that social entrepreneurs are unsung heroes and alchemists with magical qualities who can build things from nothing (Dees, 2004).  This is largely proselytising—and coming from US.  Issue of ownership and control ignored

18 US definition of Dees  Focus of literature on individual characteristics of people involved in the social economy.  Begins with market-based entrepreneurs who “mobilize the resources of others to achieve their entrepreneurial objectives”.  The social entrepreneur can therefore be defined as someone who acts as a “change agent in the social sector” by: Adopting a mission Pursuing new opportunities to achieve that mission Continually innovating, adapting and learning Avoiding limitations of current resources Being concerned with accountability to their clients and community

19 Policy focus on development of social capital  Provision of work and through such activity empowering people to build up their ‘social capital’  Scottish Executive emphasises this role without exploring the definition or usage of the concept  Social economy and social enterprise strategies are directed at providing products, services and employment to deprived regions and areas  Supposed to assist in producing regional sustainability in ‘weak’ development terms relating to economic growth and ‘strong’ development terms in relation to social cohesion

20 The entrepreneur as lone hero

21 Is it an individual decision?  A paper on the characteristics of the entrepreneurial personality (Littunen, 2000) that has, in its published electronic form, been downloaded more than any other in the Emerald system, begins by stating that ‘Starting up a new firm is very much an individual decision’, a conclusion which it is the central purpose of this paper to challenge

22 Or iconic local champion?

23 ‘Associative entrepreneurship’?  Based on mutual values  Involves the sharing of skills by groups of individuals to achieve the best outcomes for those in their group and the wider community  Central role of ownership and control  Particularly relevant in areas that have historically been dominated by nationalized industries and/or single employers, or where there has been a strong radical tradition?  Prototypical example: co-operatively-owned coal-mine Tower Colliery in the South Wales Valleys.

24 Do Social Entrepreneurs wish to be identified by this label?  What do you tell people you do?  Obviously, I’m a mother! [giggle] I don’t know really. Depends on my mood. I don’t mention that I’m married to a vet – ever! because then they want to pull in the favours. If I’m on my own, that’s the last thing I mention. I just say I work for the credit union, you know. I don’t like titles and things…  How do you feel about the term social entrepreneur?  No, I don’t see myself as an entrepreneur.  Why not?  I just don’t! [giggle] I don’t know, I’d have to think about that.  What springs to mind when you hear the term social entrepreneur?  um…making things up, making it a success, you know, out of nothing and then you make this big thing, and help people basically.

25 Howorth, C., Parkinson, C. and Coupland, C. (2006), ‘Resisting the Identity of Social Entrepreneur’, paper presented to the 29th ISBE conference in Cardiff, 31 Oct.  There was a great deal of resistance to the label of social entrepreneur. Overall, only two responded positively to the label and they treated their public acceptance of it with some caution. Some of the participants avoided the word ‘social’ in association with ‘entrepreneur’ as if the two did not go together. The vehement rejection of the term social entrepreneur by over half the participants is notable. Explanations might include a greater affinity with the community collective and seeing entrepreneurs as individuals; viewing entrepreneurs as heroic ‘other’ people; not associating with the popular myth of entrepreneurship. Alternative identities that emerged were around community activists, managers and caretakers.

26 Questions to think about  Is the label ‘entrepreneur’ attractive or unattractive?  Is the term ‘social entrepreneur’ helpful or unhelpful to those actually out there, doing it?  Is the icon and reputation of the entrepreneur limiting economic growth and/or social benefit?

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