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A conceptual model for social


entrepreneurship directed toward
social impact on society

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Hao Jiao
School of Economics and Business Administration, Beijing Normal University,
Beijing, China
Abstract
Purpose The emerging literature on social entrepreneurship and its role in economic development
and social value creation is riddled with inconsistencies, overlapping definitions, and contradictions.
However, the theoretical and practical importance of developing and applying social entrepreneurship
to sustain social development and enhance human well-being in rapidly changing environments has
catapulted this issue to the forefront of the research agendas of many scholars. In light of
advancement, the purpose of this paper is to clarify the concept of social entrepreneurship. Further, a
conceptual model is developed encompassing antecedents and consequence of social entrepreneurship
in an integrated framework.
Design/methodology/approach The paper draws on the work of others and to this adds personal
conclusions from both direct experience and observation.
Findings The central argument is that desirability and feasibility of social entrepreneur in the
decision-making process, human capital, and social capital at the individual level will have the positive
effects on social entrepreneurship. The author also discusses the moderation effects between the
desirability and feasibility of social entrepreneur in the decision-making process on initiating social
entrepreneurship activities. Moreover, it is argued that social and institutional environment factors
also promote social entrepreneurship activities which push the social improvement.
Originality/value The paper presents a theoretical research model incorporating antecedents and
consequence of social entrepreneurship to direct a future research agenda. The paper could be used as
the research model by researchers to empirically test antecedents and consequences of social
entrepreneurship. Moreover, practitioners can also gain benefits from the conceptual framework and
promote social entrepreneurship.
Keywords Social entrepreneurship, Human capital, Desirability, Feasibility, Social capital,
Social impact on society
Paper type Research paper

Introduction
The concept of social entrepreneurship has been rapidly emerging in the private,
public and non-profit sectors over the last few years, and interest in social
entrepreneurship continues to grow ( Johnson, 2000; Nicholls, 2008). Social
entrepreneurship has become a global phenomenon that impacts the society by
employing innovative approaches to solve social problems (Robinson et al., 2009).

Social Enterprise Journal


Vol. 7 No. 2, 2011
pp. 130-149
r Emerald Group Publishing Limited
1750-8614
DOI 10.1108/17508611111156600

This work is supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, the
National Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 70873005), the Philosophy & Social Science
Planning Project by Zhejiang Province (Grant No. 10CGGL01ZQ) and the Philosophy & Social
Science Planning Project by Shanghai Government (Grant No. 2010BJL001). Sincere thanks go to
Professor Jeffrey A. Robinson for his kind suggestions on revision of this paper. The author
gratefully acknowledges research support provided by The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship
& Economic Development (CUEED), Rutgers Business School, Rutgers, The State University of
New Jersey, USA. The author is grateful to the anonymous referees and editors for their
constructive and helpful suggestions.

There is considerable interest in social entrepreneurship (Mair and Noboa, 2006a;


Peredo and McLean, 2006). However, social entrepreneurship means different things to
different people, creating great confusion in the literature and practice (Zahra et al., 2008).
It is imperative to synthesize the conceptual debates and the diverse empirical
findings toward a more integrated understanding of social entrepreneurship. This
paper seeks to bring clarity to the notion of social entrepreneurship and its potential
and actual relationships to social impact. The objectives of this paper are to evaluate
the theoretical and empirical development of social entrepreneurship in order to find
what social entrepreneurship is and to propose a theoretical research model
incorporating antecedents and consequence of social entrepreneurship.
We make three contributions to the literature. First, we review the literature and
present important inconsistencies and ambiguities in the extant literature and suggest
remedies that could direct future studies. Second, we present the conceptual model,
which provides a framework for future research. Third, we deepen the discussion by
addressing a set of propositions regarding the relationships between antecedents
and consequence of social entrepreneurship. We believe the research model proposed in
this study can be adopted and further developed by future empirical studies.
The paper is organized as follows. First, we review the literature to show how
social entrepreneurship has been portrayed in the literature in order to clearly define
social entrepreneurship. Next, focusing on antecedents and consequence of social
entrepreneurship, we develop and discuss propositions related to the decision-making
process, human capital, social capital, social environment factors, institutional
environment factors and social impact. In the last section, we present a discussion of
our propositions.
Defining and understanding social entrepreneurship
The emergence of social entrepreneurship
Social entrepreneurship is a new phenomenon (Zietlow, 2002). Zahra et al. (2008)
discuss four key factors that fuel the globalization of social entrepreneurship. They are
global wealth disparity; movement of corporate social responsibility; market,
institutional and state failures; and technological advances and shared responsibility.
We argue that there are two additional reasons why social entrepreneurship
emerges in the society. First, social entrepreneurship can help non-profit organization
operate with the innovative way. Reis and Clohesy (1999) believe that when traditional
resources continually reduce and competition for these common resources become
severely severe, it is necessary for non-profit organizations to employ business
professional operations and marketing techniques to improve efficiency in products
and services so as to serve community better.
Second, the actual conditions call for an alliance between corporate and non-profit
organizations and cooperation among different components in society to make steps
toward a better life. The increasing social problems call for corporations to respond
positively and take responsibilities in the social sector. Such response will encourage
social entrepreneurship activities by corporate and non-profit organizations, which
will enhance both business value and have a positive social impact. Therefore, the
disappearing boundary between different sectors leads to innovative approaches to
solve social problems (Seelos and Mair, 2005; Sen, 2007). Johnson writes,
the non-profit sector is facing intensifying demands for improved effectiveness and
sustainability in light of diminishing funding from traditional sources and increased

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competition for these scarce resources. At the same time, the increasing concentration of
wealth in the private sector calls for increased corporate social responsibility and more
proactive responses to complex social problems, while governments at all levels are grappling
with multiple demands on public funds ( Johnson, 2000, p. 1).

Social entrepreneurship emerges as a response to the complex society needs.

132

What is social entrepreneurship?


Roberts and Woods (2005, p. 45) argue that social entrepreneurship is at an exciting
stage of infancy, short on theory and definition but high on motivation and passion.
The challenge for academia is to turn an inherently practitioner-led pursuit into a more
rigorous and objective discipline. Most importantly, we should take more efforts
to clarify what is social entrepreneurship (Christie and Honig, 2006; Nicholls, 2006;
Certo and Miller, 2008; Thompson, 2008). We define social entrepreneurship by
characteristics and operational process. The Appendix presents the key studies found
in the literature pertinent to social entrepreneurship from 1985 to 2009.
Definitions based on the mission. Some scholars consider the mission when defining
social entrepreneurship. For instance, Dees (2001) believes that social entrepreneurs
play the role of change agents in the social sector, by adopting a mission to create
and sustain social value (not just private value), recognizing and relentlessly pursuing
new opportunities to serve that mission, engaging in a process of continuous
innovation, adaptation, and learning, acting boldly without being limited by resources
currently in hand, and exhibiting heightened accountability to the constituencies
served and for the outcomes created. He believes that social value is most important in
this process.
Although social entrepreneurship is often viewed as business with a social
purpose that earns income for the non-profit sector, Dees (2003) said he leaned
toward another definition of social entrepreneurship, one that emphasized innovation
and impact, not income, in dealing with social problems. At times, according to
Dees (2003), these two ways of thinking intersect, when people with business-like
methods come together with innovative solutions to social problems. Therefore,
compared to business entrepreneurs, who are for the economy, social entrepreneurs
are for social change and are the driven, creative individuals who question
the status quo, exploit new opportunities, refuse to give up, and remake the world for
the better (Bornstein, 2004, p. 15).
Definitions based on the multiple dimensions of social entrepreneurship. Some
scholars consider social entrepreneurship as a multi-dimensional construct. Mort et al.
(2003, p. 76) believe that social entrepreneurship leads to the establishment of new
social enterprises and the continued innovation in existing ones and conceptualize
social entrepreneurship as a multi-dimensional construct involving the expression
of entrepreneurially virtuous behavior to achieve the social mission, a coherent unity of
purpose and action in the face of moral complexity, the ability to recognize social
value-creating opportunities and key decision-making characteristics of
innovativeness, proactiveness and risk-taking.
After reviewing the literature on social entrepreneurship, Weerawardena and Mort
(2006) develop a bounded multi-dimensional model of social entrepreneurship, using
the grounded theory method and in-depth case studies. The findings of their research
are presented in two related steps. In the first step, a narrative incorporating seven
emergent themes from the in-depth case study interviews: environmental dynamics,
innovativeness, proactiveness, risk management, sustainability, social mission and

opportunity seeking/recognition. In the second stage, they present the integration


of the themes into a coherent model of social entrepreneurship. In the model, social
entrepreneurship leads to social value creation. This requires innovativeness,
proactiveness and risk management behavior as the core. But, this behavior is
constrained by the desire to achieve the social mission and to maintain the
sustainability of the existing organization. In doing so, they are responsive to and
constrained by environmental dynamics. They continuously recognize the opportunity
and interact with a turbulent and dynamic environment that forces them to pursue
sustainability, often within the context of the relative resource poverty of the
organization (Weerawardena and Mort, 2006, p. 32).
Definitions based on the operational process or mechanism of social
entrepreneurship. Some literature considers social entrepreneurship as the process to
change the world (Chell, 2007). For example, Roberts and Woods (2005, p. 49) believe
social entrepreneurship is the construction, evaluation and pursuit of opportunities
for transformative social change carried out by visionary, passionately dedicated
individuals. Mair and Mart (2006) view social entrepreneurship in a broader way,
as a process involving the innovative use and combination of resources to pursue
opportunities to catalyze social change and/or address social needs.
Furthermore, Peredo and McLean (2006, p. 64) find that social entrepreneurship
is exercised where some person or group: (1) aim(s) at creating social value, either
exclusively or at least in some prominent way; (2) show(s) a capacity to recognize
and take advantage of opportunities to create that value (envision); (3) employ(s)
innovation, ranging from outright invention to adapting someone elses novelty, in
creating and/or distributing social value; (4) is/are willing to accept an above-average
degree of risk in creating and disseminating social value; and (5) is/are unusually
resourceful in being relatively undaunted by scarce assets in pursuing their social
venture.
Using six social enterprises, Robinson (2006) conducted case study research and
summarized a social entrepreneurial process model based on the opportunity
recognition and evaluation. Also, Dees et al. (2002) divide social entrepreneurship into
three dynamic processes. The first stage is the initiation of the entrepreneurial team
and the formation of the organization, including the profit and not-for-profit
organizations. The second stage is the process of forming organizational structure
through negotiation and communication. The last stage is the process of internal
decision making, operation and interaction among different parts to address the
external changing challenges.
In all, social entrepreneurship bridges an important gap between business and
social action (Roberts and Woods, 2005). Therefore, Duke Universitys Fuqua School of
Business, the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) writes,
Social entrepreneurship is the process of recognizing and resourcefully pursuing
opportunities to create social value with the innovative method. Social entrepreneurs
are innovative, resourceful, and result-oriented, who draw upon the best thinking in both the
business and nonprofit worlds to develop strategies that maximize social impact. These
entrepreneurial leaders operate in all kinds of organizations: large and small; new and old;
religious and secular; non-profit, for-profit, and hybrid.

In summary, these scholars have conducted the research about the definition of social
entrepreneurship, which makes social entrepreneurship more clear. However, the
antecedents and consequence of social entrepreneurship are not very clear. Therefore,

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we also need to find antecedents and consequence of social entrepreneurship in order


to create a successful model of social entrepreneurship to create social value.
A conceptual model for social entrepreneurship
A primary interest in management research is to identify relationships between
organizational variables (Eisenhardt, 1989). As an emerging concept, social
entrepreneurship needs to be examined in an integrated framework incorporating
the antecedents and consequence (Zahra et al., 2008).
We argue that there are four key antecedents of social entrepreneurship, including
desirability and feasibility of social entrepreneur in the decision-making process,
human capital of social entrepreneur, social capital of social entrepreneur, social
environment factors and institutional environment factors. Although there are
numerous other variables that could be examined in terms of antecedents, we argue
that the above variables are the most important. Moreover, according to the definition
of social entrepreneurship, we consider social impact as the consequence of social
entrepreneurship. Below, we propose and illustrate a research model (see Figure 1).
Key antecedents of social entrepreneurship
The process of social entrepreneurship is related to many factors such as the individual
social entrepreneur, social and institutional environments. At the individual level, the
research has focussed on the key role of social entrepreneur, whose value will have
impact on behavior (DeCharmes, 1968; Aldrich, 1989; Thompson et al., 2000; Dees et al.,
2002; Handy and Ranade, 2002; Thompson, 2002; Mair and Noboa, 2003; Mair and
Noboa, 2006b; Thompson and Doherty, 2006; Danna and Porche, 2008). In the
following, the paper analyzes the role of the social entrepreneur from the perspectives
of desirability and feasibility of the social entrepreneur in the decision-making process,
human capital and social capital.

Social
environment
factors

Human
capital

P3
Desirability
and
feasibility

P6

P2
P1

Social
entrepreneurship

P8

P5
P4

Social
capital

Figure 1.
A research model for
social entrepreneurship

P7

Institutional
environment
factors

Direct effects

Moderation effects

Social
impact

Moreover, social and institutional environmental factors have significant impacts on


the launching and continued implementation of social entrepreneurship (Bornstein,
1998; Handy and Ranade, 2002; Zietlow, 2002; Mort et al., 2003; Bornstein, 2004;
Thompson and Doherty, 2006; Weerawardena and Mort, 2006). Specifically, social and
institutional factors include public awareness about social entrepreneurship,
governmental agencies support, financial support from the foundation, as well as
relevant support from other non-profit organizations. We discuss these factors one by
one below.
Desirability and feasibility of social entrepreneur in the decision-making process. Mair
and Noboa (2006b) study entrepreneurial intention process of social entrepreneur,
which anatomizes the black box of decision process for the entrepreneurial
activities. They find that entrepreneurial intention of social entrepreneur is
influenced by self-cognitive desirability and feasibility. Cognitive desirability is the
degree of desire to start social entrepreneurship activities. Cognitive feasibility is
the subjective evaluation of the social entrepreneurs capacity to initiate social
entrepreneurship activities.
The cognitive desirability of a social entrepreneur is influenced by personal value
and cognitive attitude, and cognitive feasibility is influenced by some enabling factors
such as personal competence, self-efficacy and social support (Thompson et al., 2000;
Guclu et al., 2002; Simms and Robinson, 2008). Dees (2001) considered that the most
distinguishing characteristic of the social entrepreneur is the sense of mission to make
social impact in order to change the world. A high degree of social mission, charismatic
personality and an unshakable belief is the driving force for social entrepreneurship.
Moreover, their cognitive feasibility is influenced by personal competence. It is a strong
sense of social mission that makes social entrepreneurs have a deep understanding
of the target population. That is to say, social entrepreneurs should have the capacity to
start social entrepreneurship activities, which will strengthen the degree of cognitive
feasibility.
Therefore, we argue that cognitive desirability and feasibility of the social
entrepreneur influences the initiation of social entrepreneurship, which in turn pushes
social impact and creates social value for the whole society.
P1. The desirability and feasibility of the social entrepreneur in the decision-making
process will be positively related to social entrepreneurship activities.
Human capital of social entrepreneur. Human capital can be defined as the range of
valuable knowledge and skills a person has accumulated over time (Coleman, 1990;
Becker, 1993; Davidsson and Honig, 2003). The knowledge of the social entrepreneur
includes the plan to start social entrepreneurship activities. Dees et al. (2001) believe
that the social entrepreneur should have the knowledge to understand their customers
and analyze their needs in order to satisfy their needs with innovative methods. Guclu
et al. (2002) found that the inspiring ideas of social ventures are the key to success, and
knowledge plays an important role.
The skills to integrate and utilize resources are also the human capital of
social entrepreneur. The integrating capabilities contribute to the development of
social entrepreneurship activities, which is the underlying mechanism of social
transformation. Therefore, social entrepreneurs are considered as the changing agents
in the social sector by engaging in a process of continuous innovation (Dees, 2001).
Danna and Porche (2008) found that social entrepreneurs utilize and integrate others

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resources to realize the objective of social entrepreneurship activities. Furthermore,


Dees (2003) compared social entrepreneur with administrative staff in the government
department and found that the formers logic is valuable. Social entrepreneur mainly
focuses on the idea and then integrate the resources to realize it.
Therefore, knowledge and the ability to integrate resources, which are elements
of human capital, play an important role in the process of social entrepreneurship.
We propose that:
P2. Higher levels of human capital will be positively related to the success of new
social entrepreneurship activities.
We have proposed that human capital is positively related to social entrepreneurship.
We now propose that the strength of that relationship will be moderated by the
desirability and feasibility of the social entrepreneur in the decision-making process.
When social entrepreneurs with a high degree of desirability and feasibility
concern perceive that they have a high level of human capital, they will conclude that
they have the capacity to start new social ventures. This should strengthen their
commitment to social entrepreneurship activities. In other words, the desirability and
feasibility of the social entrepreneur in the decision-making process has a moderating
effect on the relationship between human capital and social entrepreneurship. We
propose that:
P3. The interaction between human capital with the desirability and feasibility of
social entrepreneur in the decision-making process is positively related to social
entrepreneurship activities.
Social capital of social entrepreneur. Bourdieu and Wacquant (1997, p. 119) define
social capital as the sum of the resources, actual or virtual, that accrue to an individual
or group by virtue of processing a durable network of more or less institutionalized
relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition. Therefore, social capital is
created by a network in which people, as the agent, can broker connections between
otherwise disconnected segments (Burt, 1992). As discussed above, factors at
the individual level are important for social entrepreneurship activities. Besides, the
organizational factors in social ventures such as capital, organizational structure,
composition of top management team and stability and utilization of social networks
also have a great effect on operations of social entrepreneurship activities (Tsai and
Ghoshal, 1998). All these factors can be included into social capital of social
entrepreneur. Based on the empirical research in Israel, Weerawardena and Mort (2006)
thought that capital, employee structure and top managers performance in the
beginning stage of social ventures could influence the operational process.
Social capital comes from a founders social network (Tsai and Ghoshal, 1998;
Bornstein, 2004). For instance, Bornstein (2004) described that networks make big
differences in the process of social entrepreneurship. Javids example in India best
illustrates this point. As a handicapped leader, Javid met many challenges as he
worked for social change. However, he was born in the rich family in India that
brought him a good social network. He had a good personal relationship with Gandhis
daughter, Sonia Gandhi, chairman of Indias Congress Party. This relationship was
helpful in achieving his social change objectives. Social network is one of the most
important factors for successful social entrepreneurship.

Dees et al. (2002) also believed that social entrepreneur should focus on the network
relationships because these relationships are needed for entrepreneurial performance
and to create innovative arrangements to deal with the social problems. Furthermore,
Leadbeater (1997) argued that social capital that exists in a social entrepreneurs
network is fundamental to social entrepreneurship activities. Social entrepreneurs
must build successful partnerships with major companies and establish collaborations
with relevant stakeholders such as the Skoll Foundation, the International Business
Leaders Forum and IDEO, the international design company. In a word, a social
entrepreneurs network has a major influence on their entrepreneurial performance.
Therefore, we propose that:
P4a. Social capital is positively related to social entrepreneurship. The more social
capital a social entrepreneur has, the stronger the drive to start the new social
entrepreneurship activities.
P4b. Social capital is positively related to survival rates. Social ventures founded by
social entrepreneurs with higher levels of social capital will higher survival
rates than those with lower levels of social capital.
Thus far, we have proposed that social capital is positively related to social
entrepreneurship. We further propose, in a similar fashion to P3, that the strength of
the relationship will be moderated by the desirability and feasibility of the social
entrepreneur in the decision-making process. Social entrepreneurship primarily
pursues the improvement of social value. Therefore, social entrepreneurs face difficulty
when they attempt to raise funds through financial and capital markets. When social
entrepreneurs with a high degree of cognitive desirability and feasibility perceive
they have high level of social capital, they will conclude that they have the capacity to
mobilize the necessary resources to start social ventures, which also strengthen their
commitment to social entrepreneurship activities. In other words, the desirability and
feasibility of the social entrepreneur in the decision-making process has the moderation
effect on the relationship between the social capital and social entrepreneurship. We
propose that:
P5. The relationship between social capital of social entrepreneur and social
entrepreneurship will be moderated by the desirability and feasibility of social
entrepreneur in the decision-making process.
Social environment factors as the prerequisite. Social entrepreneurs emerge in
North America and western Europe, mainly due to the environment for cultivating
social entrepreneurship in these regions, which serve as incubators for social
entrepreneurship activities (Freeman et al., 2007). There are some distinguished
foundations giving grants to social entrepreneurs. These foundations, such as
Ashoka, Echoing Green and Draper-Richards, identify promising social entrepreneurs,
accept applications for venture capital to social entrepreneurs with social venture
plans and provide initial technical support and training. Financial support can
range from 30,000 to 100,000 US dollars over two or three years for selected
social entrepreneurs. In addition, there are well known and large consulting firms
that provide free advice for public venture enterprises, such as Bridgestar
Consulting.

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In addition, research institutions in social entrepreneurship in North America and


western Europe have increased exponentially, hence increasing publications and
databases in this field (Korosec and Berman, 2006). Dahles (2004) statistical study
noted that there were at least 30 business schools teaching social entrepreneurship
course in the USA, Canada and the UK in 2004. Today there are more than 100
(Robinson, 2010). These world-renowned business school established related research
centers, such as Social Enterprise Research Center at Harvard Business School,
Research Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University, Center for Social
Entrepreneurship at Duke University, Center for Nonprofit Management at Kellogg
Business School, Northwestern University, Center for Urban Entrepreneurship &
Economic Development at Rutgers University, Center for social entrepreneurship at
University of Alberta, and Skoll center for social entrepreneurship at University of
Oxford. These centers web sites also have access to relevant research database, which
promote social entrepreneurship in the whole.
As a result, both foundations and research institutions contribute to the
dissemination and implementation of creative ideas for social entrepreneurship
activities. To summarize, social entrepreneurship prevails in North America and
western Europe due to the following environmental factors:
.

support from foundations and commercial enterprises;

education of social entrepreneurial skills and spirit;

sufficient social entrepreneurship funding; and

monitoring and evaluation of social ventures.

Therefore, we propose that:


P6. Higher levels of environmental factors (support, education, funding and
monitoring) will be positively related to social entrepreneurship.
Institutional environment factors as the foundation. In addition to support from
such non-profit organizations as research institutions and foundations, public support
from government agencies are also greatly important to promote social
entrepreneurship. This argument is similar to that of North (1990) when addressing
the business institutional environment. For example, social entrepreneurship in the UK
is very active; citizens actively participate in social entrepreneurship, which are the
result of government support. For instance, Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of
the UK, called on the government to support the activities of social entrepreneurship.
He argued that social entrepreneurs not only solve economic problems but also create
social impact, just as commercial entrepreneurs create financial wealth. Both make
their own contribution to the progress of humanity. The British government launched a
special policy to encourage more people to establish social-related entrepreneurial
ventures in 2002, which encouraged British people participating in social
entrepreneurship activities. Thus, social entrepreneurs address many social issues,
such as helping vulnerable groups, poverty alleviation, rehabilitation and
environmental protection.
Since the 1980s, many developed countries adopted neo-liberal economic policies,
which emphasized the market as the main regulating mechanism of resources. As a
result, government funding to non-profit organizations reduced year by year. Moreover,
government funding to the welfare sector sharply decreased, while market failure led

to increasing pressure for non-profit organization to provide public services


( Johnson, 2000). Reis and Clohesy (1999) also argued that with the decrease in
public funding and more intense competition in getting access to these resources, nonprofit organizations face strong demand and pressure to improve their operational
efficiency through business processes and specialized technology in order to provide
better public services. This is also a driving force of social entrepreneurship activities.
Therefore, we propose that:
P7. Institutional environment factors (government support, competition within the
sector and public policy) will be related to social entrepreneurship. Supportive
policies in the institutional environment will lead to higher levels of social
entrepreneurship.
Consequence of social entrepreneurship: social impact on society. As discussed above,
the current literature on social entrepreneurship agrees that social impact is the main
purpose for establishing a social venture social value in an innovative manner
(Zietlow, 2001; Alvord et al., 2004; Bornstein, 2004; Godfrey, 2005; Hibbert et al., 2005;
Austin et al., 2006; Austin, 2006). Mair and Mart (2006) consider social
entrepreneurship as differing from other forms of entrepreneurship in the relatively
higher priority given to promoting social value and development versus capturing
economic value. Roberts and Woods (2005) believe that social entrepreneurship is a
new construct that bridges an important gap between business and philanthropy,
which is the application of entrepreneurship theory in the social sphere to solve social
problems in society such as environmental issues, the income gap and employment
difficulties. Therefore, we propose that:
P8. Higher levels of social entrepreneurship is positively related to the social impact
in society.
Conclusion and future research
In recent years, social entrepreneurship has emerged as a popular term used by
politicians, businesspeople and institutions alike to describe businesses that give
back to society, such as entrepreneurial activities aiming to improve social value
as well as business benefits. Social entrepreneurship, therefore, becomes a
mechanism for reconciling these disparities in wealth, opportunity, educational
access and environmental issues. The central contribution of this paper is the
construction of a conceptual model for social entrepreneurship with an integrative
approach.
This conceptual paper is one of the first steps in developing a model for social
entrepreneurship. In this regard, we developed a conceptual framework of social
entrepreneurship with both antecedents and consequence. Specifically, we clarify a
definition of social entrepreneurship that can move discussion on this topic beyond
taxonomic distinctions of what is and what is not social entrepreneurship. Second, we
discuss the factors that influence social entrepreneurship at the individual level such as
desirability and feasibility of the social entrepreneur in the decision-making process,
human capital of social entrepreneur and social capital of social entrepreneur. We also
discussed the moderating effects of the desirability and feasibility of the social
entrepreneur in the decision-making process to initiate social entrepreneurship
activities. Furthermore, at a macroscopic level, we discussed the role of social and

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institutional environment factors than can increase social entrepreneurship. Finally, we


discussed the consequence of social entrepreneurship.
Practitioners can also gain several implications from our conceptual framework to
promote the development of social entrepreneurship. First, government can establish
positive policies such as tax reduction and seed funds to encourage social
entrepreneurship activities to encourage social entrepreneurs to start social ventures.
For any entrepreneur, the start-up period of an entrepreneurial activity is difficult.
Social entrepreneurship activity is in the same situation. Therefore, how government
strategically support social entrepreneurship activities is very important. If the
government puts the tax reduction policy to social entrepreneurship activities, social
entrepreneur will have high degree of cognitive desirability and feasibility to initiate
social entrepreneurship activities and social enterprise will make a living more
easily. Moreover, government can organize some training program to strengthen
operating skills to increase human capital of social entrepreneur. In the training
program, social entrepreneur can communicate with each other, learn different social
entrepreneurship experience, and expand social capital of social entrepreneur.
Second, institutions such as universities can host relevant international conferences
to disseminate social entrepreneurship concepts and promote a social entrepreneurial
spirit. For example, the University of Cambridge in England and Zhejiang University
in China in 2007 and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in the USA and
Shanghai University and University of International Business and Economics in China
in 2009 held the international forums on social entrepreneurship separately. Both
conferences promoted the spread of social entrepreneurship in Asia. These kinds of
conference can gather social entrepreneurs, enlarge their social networks for research,
and increase their level of social capital. Moreover, universities can invite social
entrepreneur to make a lecture in the class to promote consciousness of college
students, who are main forces to start social entrepreneurship activities. In the mean
time, professors can walk out of campus and enter communities to disseminate
concept of social entrepreneurship to let the public understand these kinds of activities,
which is useful for the development of social entrepreneurship.
Finally, the framework presented in this paper demonstrates how government,
university and association can work together to cultivate a social and institutional
environment to encourage social entrepreneurship activities. Specially, government can
set up the foundation to support university and association to broadcast social
entrepreneurship concept. Moreover, university and association can hold an informal
salon or make up a party to gather social entrepreneur. In this way they can
communicate with each other, share different experience and increase social capital.
Moreover, government, university and association can combine with each other to
elect the best practice in the social entrepreneurship industry. Other social enterprises
can learn from best practice to improve their performance.
By providing a conceptual model for social entrepreneurship, the paper has
contributed to the field of entrepreneurship and related academic literature, which can
help to an overall understanding and the further development of social
entrepreneurship. Here, we have focussed on developing several testable
propositions intended to advance the understanding of the relationships among
variables central to social entrepreneurship, their antecedents and their consequences.
We hope that other scholars will take up the challenge of further exploring and testing
these ideas. Further studies can take the following directions. First, researchers can
develop to design questionnaires and validate an instrument that quantifies social

entrepreneurship to test our theoretical model empirically to verify our propositions.


Second, future research can also theoretically extend our model by introducing other
possible antecedents. Doing so will identify the factors that promote social entrepreneurship
and achieve the important social impacts that lead to a more harmonious society.

A model for
social
entrepreneurship

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Appendix

Table AI.
Key studies pertinent to
social entrepreneurship:
1985-2009

Authors

Approach

Focus of the paper

Galaskiewicz
(1985)

Qualitative

Waddock and
Post (1991)

Case studies

Selsky and
Smith (1994)

Qualitative

Leadbeater
(1997)

Case studies

To demonstrate how social organization can get otherwise selfish


actors to contribute resources for the common good. And also,
business has to do more to impress citizens of its usefulness. The
more responsible business is to the general needs of the
community, the more responsive the community will be to business
Social entrepreneurs are private citizens who play critical roles in
bringing about catalytic changes in the public sector agenda and
the perception of social issues. Factors that make their projects
include problem complexity, credibility and a commitment to a
collective purpose. First, the social problem is characterized by
extreme complexity, which the social entrepreneur is somehow able
to bind into a vision that has the potential to reshape public
attitudes when implemented. Second, social entrepreneurs are
individuals with significant personal credibility, which they use to
tap critical resources and actually build the necessary network of
participating organizations. Third, the social entrepreneur
generates followers commitment to the project by framing it in
terms of important social values, rather than purely economic
terms, which results in a sense of collective purpose among the
social entrepreneur and those who join the effort
Times are tough for non-profit organizations attempting to deliver
services to their constituents. Community entrepreneurship is a
good choice on leadership and change in non-profit communitybased organizations
Social entrepreneurs will be one of the most important sources of
innovation. Social entrepreneurs identify under-utilized resources
people, buildings, equipment and find ways of putting them to use
to satisfy unmet social needs. They create new welfare services and
new ways of delivering existing services. Social entrepreneurs who
deploy entrepreneurial skills for social ends are at work in parts of
the traditional public sector, some large private sector corporations
and at the most innovative edge of the voluntary sector

(continued)

Authors

Approach

Focus of the paper

Bornstein
(1998)

Qualitative

Wallace (1999)

Case study

Thompson
et al. (2000)

Qualitative

Dees (2001)

Qualitative

Dees et al.
(2001)

Qualitative

Zietlow (2001)

Qualitative

Ashoka, an ambitious foundation, promotes social change by


finding social entrepreneurs people who have new ideas and the
knack for implementing them. Social entrepreneurs share a deep
belief in their ability to alter their society fundamentally, who feel
so strongly that they can make a difference
An attempt is made to examine the role of social and political
cohesion in a community economic development context focusing
on the emergence and dynamics of social purpose enterprises in
facilitating community development and revitalization efforts. The
discourse centers on why community economic development is
essential and who can best promote community economic
development. In answer to these two inquiries, the case is argued
for the recognition of and advocacy for the expansion of social
purpose enterprises, often operating for-profit ventures, as an
effective socio-political and economic link between government and
free market enterprise
Social entrepreneurs are the people who realize where there is an
opportunity to satisfy some unmet need that the state welfare
system will not or cannot meet, and who gather the necessary
resources and use these to make a difference
In addition to innovative not-for-profit ventures, social
entrepreneurship can include social purpose business ventures,
such as for-profit community development banks, and hybrid
organizations mixing not-for-profit and for-profit elements, such as
homeless shelters that start businesses to train and employ their
residents
Social entrepreneurs play the role of change agents in the
social sector, by: first adopting a mission to create and sustain
social value (not just private value), second recognizing and
relentlessly pursuing new opportunities to serve that mission,
third engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaptation
and learning, fourth acting boldly without being limited by
resources currently in hand and fifth exhibiting heightened
accountability to the constituencies served and for the outcomes
created
The rising spirit of social entrepreneurship has created all kinds of
new opportunities for non-profit organizations. However,
at the same time, there are so many challenges as well. This
essential book will help anyone in the field gain the necessary
skills to meet these challenges. Written by the leading thinkers
and practitioners in the field, Enterprising Nonprofits: A Toolkit
for Entrepreneurs offers concise and engaging explanations
of the most successful business tools being used by
non-profits today
Non-profit organizations are being urged to take a more
businesslike approach to their operations, and to add earned
income ventures to offset cash shortfalls due to lower donation or
grant and contract revenue. Entrepreneurial ventures are not only
seen in commercially oriented health care, arts and education
organizations, but churches, youth organizations, soup kitchens
and other donative non-profits

(continued)

A model for
social
entrepreneurship
145

Table AI.

SEJ
7,2

Authors

Approach

Focus of the paper

Dees et al.
(2002)

Qualitative

Guclu et al.
(2002)

Qualitative

Handy and
Ranade (2002)

Quantitative

Hibbert et al.
(2002)

Case study

Thompson
(2002)

Case studies

Zietlow (2002)

Qualitative

Mort et al.
(2003)

Qualitative

This book is a complete set of tools for applying entrepreneurial


strategies and techniques to non-profit organizations. It provides a
full set of practical tools for putting the lessons of business
entrepreneurship to work in social entrepreneurship, which offers
hands-on guidance that helps social sector leaders hone their
entrepreneurial skills and carry out their social missions more
effectively than ever before
An act of social entrepreneurship start with the vision of an
attractive opportunity, which is one that has sufficient potential for
positive social impact to justify the investment of time, energy and
money required to pursue it seriously. Social entrepreneurs should
generate promising ideas and develop them into attractive
opportunities
The research confirms findings by other scholars that non-profit
entrepreneurs receive a high payroll from promoting social causes.
Furthermore, previous experience in the sector, beliefs, culture,
social class, education and family background also play an
important role. This article examines women entrepreneurs in the
non-profit sector. Entrepreneurial activity attracts certain kinds of
individuals. Such self-selection is not a random event but is
influenced by personal characteristics as well as socio-economic
and cultural factors
The paper explores how consumer response to the Big Issue is
influenced by the fact that the magazine is sold by homeless people
themselves. The findings suggest that consumers buy it both
because they like the magazine and because they believe that they
are helping the homeless, often paying more than the magazine
cover price for the latter reason. The results also reveal that
consumers see the direct involvement of homeless people in the
exchange positively, recognizing it as an empowering process
This paper begins by defining social entrepreneurs and social
entrepreneurship. Then, using projects considered for a charter
award under the Duke of Yorks Community Initiative, it looks at
what social entrepreneurs do and achieve for the community, at the
wide scope of their world, and at the help that is available and
needed
The author gives the book review about Enterprising Nonprofits: A
Toolkit for Entrepreneurs, and believes non-profit managers will
find valuable guidance on many facets of launching and managing
a new venture
Social entrepreneurship, leading to the establishment of new social
enterprises and the continued innovation in existing ones, is much
discussed but little understood and, given the increasing
importance of such organizations, should be addressed. This paper
conceptualizes social entrepreneurship as a multi-dimensional
construct involving the expression of entrepreneurially virtuous
behavior to achieve the social mission, a coherent unity of purpose
and action in the face of moral complexity, the ability to recognize
social value-creating opportunities and key decision-making
characteristics of innovativeness, proactiveness and risk taking

146

Table AI.

(continued)

Authors

Approach

Focus of the paper

Alvord et al.
(2004)

Qualitative

Bornstein
(2004)

Case studies

Harding (2004)

Qualitative

Hemingway
(2005)

Case study

Roper and
Cheney (2005)

Qualitative

Seelos and
Mair (2005)

Case study

Austin et al.
(2006)

Qualitative

Jones and
Keogh (2006)

Case studies

The article suggests factors associated with successful social


entrepreneurship, particularly with social entrepreneurship that
leads to significant changes in the social, political and economic
contexts for poor and marginalized groups
Social entrepreneurs are to social change, who are the driven,
creative individuals who question the status quo, exploit new
opportunities, refuse to give up and remake the world for the better
As the worlds investors become more actively interested in a
broader definition of business value creation, and as policy makers
become ever-more interested in the role of entrepreneurship
generally in fuelling economic growth, the role of social enterprise
in creating economic and social value needs to be examined more
closely. Yet this is where the evidence is weakest. In particular, and
despite the unquestioned interest in the subject, a single definition
of social entrepreneurship remains elusive. The exercise of
measuring social entrepreneurship is fraught with difficulty
This paper makes a case for the employee as a moral agent, even
though the paper begins by highlighting a body of evidence, which
suggests that individual moral agency is sacrificed at work and is
compromised in deference to other pressures. This leads to a
discussion about the notion of discretion and an examination of a
separate, contrary body of literature, which indicates that some
individuals in corporations may use their discretion to behave in a
socially entrepreneurial manner. It is suggested that individuals
may be categorized as Active or Frustrated Corporate Social
Entrepreneurs; Conformists or Apathetics, distinguished by their
individualistic or collectivist personal values
This paper explores the historical development and current usages
of the concept of social entrepreneurship. In discussion the paper
questions some of the motives of social entrepreneurs and warns
against uncritical acceptance of a blurring of the boundaries
between sectors of society
Social entrepreneurship is used to refer to the rapidly growing number
of organizations that have created models for efficiently catering to
basic human needs that existing markets and institutions have failed
to satisfy. Social entrepreneurship combines the resourcefulness of
traditional entrepreneurship with a mission to change society
This article offers a comparative analysis of commercial and social
entrepreneurship using a prevailing analytical model from
commercial entrepreneurship. The analysis highlights key
similarities and differences between these two forms of
entrepreneurship and presents a framework on how to approach the
social entrepreneurial process more systematically and effectively
The authors want to study some of the difficulties involved in
defining the nature of social enterprises and the environments in
which they operate in order to provide a framework to show how
and where social enterprises fit in the overall social economy and
find four key issues need to be addressed such as voluntary
participation, independence from the state, the concept of profit,
and ownership and corporate governance

(continued)

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social
entrepreneurship
147

Table AI.

SEJ
7,2

Authors

Approach

Focus of the paper

Korosec and
Berman (2006)

Quantitative

Mair and Mart


(2006)

Qualitative

Peredo and
McLean (2006)

Qualitative

Sharir and
Lerner (2006)

Case studies

Weerawardena
and Mort (2006)

Case studies

Thompson
(2008)

Qualitative

This paper examines how cities help social entrepreneurship the


activity of private individuals and organizations taking initiative
to address social challenges in their communities, which finds
that municipalities help social entrepreneurs by increasing
awareness of social problems, and by helping them to acquire
resources, coordinate with other organizations and implement
programs
Social entrepreneurship, as a practice and a field for scholarly
investigation, provides a unique opportunity to challenge, question
and rethink concepts and assumptions from different fields of
management and business research. This paper puts forward a
view of social entrepreneurship as a process that catalyzes social
change and addresses important social needs in a way that is not
dominated by direct financial benefits for the entrepreneurs.
Social entrepreneurship is seen as differing from other forms of
entrepreneurship in the relatively higher priority given to
promoting social value and development vs capturing
economic value
Social entrepreneurship is exercised where some person or
persons first aim either exclusively or in some prominent way to
create social value of some kind, and pursue that goal through
some combination of, second recognizing and exploiting
opportunities to create this value, third employing innovation,
fourth tolerating risk and fifth declining to accept limitations in
available resources
The study demonstrates eight variables as contributing to the
success of the social ventures, arranged in the order of their
value: first the entrepreneurs social network; second total
dedication to the ventures success; third the capital base at the
establishment stage; fourth the acceptance of the venture
idea in the public discourse; fifth the composition of the
venturing team, including the ratio of volunteers to salaried
employees; sixth forming cooperations in the public and
non-profit sectors in the long term; seventh the ability of the service
to stand the market test; and eighth the entrepreneurs previous
managerial experience
Social entrepreneurship is an emerging area of investigation
within the entrepreneurship and not-for-profit marketing
literatures. Using grounded theory method and drawing on
nine in-depth case studies of social entrepreneurial
not-for-profit organizations, this paper addresses this research
gap and develops a bounded multi-dimensional model of social
entrepreneurship
The paper finds that social enterprises, social entrepreneurship and
social entrepreneurs are clearly linked but there are important
distinctions. The paper aims to provide some greater insight and
help both scholars and practitioners in their respective quests for
understanding and improvement. The paper could further help
people clarify what needs to be covered on courses and degrees in
this subject area

148

Table AI.

(continued)

Authors

Approach

Focus of the paper

Zahra et al.
(2008)

Qualitative

Social entrepreneurship has emerged as an important research


topic in the literature. The authors explain the forces contributing
to the formation and rapid internationalization of social ventures.
Based on the behavioral theory of the firm, the authors distill key
attributes of social opportunities and show how these attributes
influence the timing and geographic scope of social ventures
international operations
The authors seek to clarify the landscape of social
entrepreneurship by introducing a typology of entrepreneurial
ventures. Motivation to engage in mission driven, social
entrepreneurial activity is influenced by three main factors: sources
of opportunities, stakeholder salience and performance metrics

Neck et al.
(2009)

Qualitative

About the author


Dr Hao Jiao is an Assistant Professor in the School of Economics and Business Administration,
Beijing Normal University, China. His research interests include entrepreneurship management,
innovation management and dynamic capabilities theory within the context of emerging
markets, among others. He has published well over 30 articles in major referred journals in
entrepreneurship and innovation management. Hao Jiao can be contacted at: haojiao@ymail.com

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A model for
social
entrepreneurship
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Table AI.

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