Social Entrepreneurship: A Buzzword Ready To Be Delineated?

16 maart 2018, 06:00
Laura Di Santolo
Laura Di Santolo
In haar thesis neemt Laura Di Santolo ons meer in de wereld van maatschappelijk ondernemen. Een concept dat volgens Di Santolo grotendeels ongedefinieerd blijft, maar invloed heeft op alle drie de sectoren van de samenleving: markt, overheid en het maatschappelijk middenveld. Tijd is om het eens kritisch en systematisch te onderzoeken. Ze gebruikt daarvoor een mixed-method benadering en richt zich op het voorvoegsel maatschappelijk (social), dat vaak helemaal niet klopt.
1. Laura, you are at a party and have to explain your paper in three sentences. What would you say?
‘I am writing about Social Entrepreneurship, an omnipresent concept impacting all three sectors of society (the market, the government and civil society) and having grown exponentially as an academic field over the past twenty years. While the concept remains largely undefined, I take the position that it is dominated by a purely positive narrative and that it is about time to critically and systemically investigate Social Entrepreneurship. As a result, I conducted a mixed-method study that first qualitatively expands the understanding regarding Social Entrepreneurship and second quantitatively tests my newly gained understanding.’ 
2. What is the most important conclusion after your research?
‘First of all, the prefix social highly complicates the understanding of the concept. What is social to you is highly dependent on your perspective, your politics and ideologies and cannot be neatly put in a rational management definition. Second, the dominant discourse suggesting that by leveraging on commercial logic to improve social needs we have a win-win situation is not supported by my research. I find that commercial and social goals do not co-exist easily within a social enterprise, as in reality social goals are often compromised to ensure financial viability. Thus, when using my theoretical insights to draw an actual boundary, a lot of self-proclaimed social enterprises no longer fall under the category of Social Entrepreneurship.’
3. Who will find this paper interesting to read?
‘People that consider themselves social entrepreneurs, policy-makers encouraging social entrepreneurship, but also academics researching the topic that do not critically investigate the concept and simply rely on practitioner organisations to identify social enterprises.’
4. What recommendations can you give that people can put into practice?
‘The social entrepreneurship criteria list, which I derive from my qualitative research is highly suited for practitioners. I identify five entrepreneurial criteria and six social criteria, which allow assessing the degree of Social Entrepreneurship within every organisation. Broadly speaking, any social entrepreneur should check the following boxes: having and prioritising the social mission, focusing and listening to the communities, accounting for and measuring social targets.’

Laura Di Santolo 383322
Supervisor: Dr. René Olie
Co-reader: Prof. Lucas Meijs
Date: 11.03.2018
Master Thesis
MSc. International Management / CEMS
Rotterdam School of Management 
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