Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 31108
Schools of Thought in the Field of Social Entrepreneurship

Authors: Cris Bravo


Social entrepreneurship is a new and exciting topic that holds a great promise in helping alleviate the social problems of the world. As a new subject, the meaning of the term is too broad and this is counterproductive in trying to build understanding around the concept. The purpose of this study is to identify and compare the elements of social entrepreneurship as defined by seven international organizations leading social entrepreneurship projects: Ashoka Foundation, Skoll Foundation, Schwab Foundation and Yunus Center; as well as from three other institutions fostering social entrepreneurship: Global Social Benefit Institute, BRAC University, and Socialab. The study used document analysis from Skoll Foundation, Schwab Foundation, Yunus Center and Ashoka Foundation; and open ended interview to experts from the Global Social Benefit Institute at Santa Clara University in United States, BRAC University from Bangladesh, and Socialab from Argentina. The study identified three clearly differentiated schools of thought, based on their views on revenue, scalability, replicability and geographic location. While this study is by no means exhaustive, it provides an indication of the patterns of ideas fostered by important players in the field. By clearly identifying the similarities and differences in the concept of social entrepreneurship, research and practitioners are better equipped to build on the subject, and to promote more adequate and accurate social policies to foster the development of social entrepreneurship.

Keywords: Scalability, social entrepreneurship, revenue, replicability, schools of thought

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 3756


[1] S.T. Certo and T. Miller, “Social Entrepreneurship: Key issues and concepts,” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, vol 51, no 4, pp 267- 271, Month, 2008.
[2] T.L. Hill, T.H Kothari and M. Shea, “Patterns of meaning in the social entrepreneurship literature: a research platform,” Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, vol 1, no 1, pp 5-31 2010
[3] A. Nicholls, “The legitimacy of social entrepreneurship: reflexive isomorphism in a preparadigmatic field,” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, vol 34, no 4, pp 611-633, 2010.
[4] J. Weerawardena and G. S. Mort, “Investigating social entrepreneurship: A multidimensional model,” Journal of World Business, vol 41, no 1, pp 21–35, 2006.
[5] J. Short, T.W. Moss and G. T. Lumpkin, “Research in Social Entrepreneurship: Past contributions and future opportunities,” Strategic entrepreneurship journal, vol 3, no. 2, pp 161-194, 2009.
[6] A.M. Peredo and M. McLean, “Social entrepreneurship: A critical review of the concept”. Journal of World Business, vol 41, no 1, pp 56– 65, 2006.
[7] J. G. Dees and B. B. Anderson, “Framing a theory of social entrepreneurship: Building on two schools of practice and thought” Research on social entrepreneurship: Understanding and contributing to an emerging field, vol 1 no 3, pp 39-66, 2006.
[8] J. Defourny and M. Nyssens, “Conceptions of Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurship in Europe and the United States: Convergences and Divergences,” Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, vol 1, no 1, pp 32-53, 2010.
[9] B. Hoogendoorn, E. Pennings, and R. Thurik, (2010) “What Do We Know About Social Entrepreneurship: An Analysis of Empirical Research” Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Available: (Accessed March 1st, 2015)
[10] K. M. Eisenhardt, “Building theories from case study research,” Academy of management review, vol 14, no 4, pp 532-550, 1989.
[11] Ashoka Foundation. (2015). (Online). Available: (Accessed March 1st, 2015)
[12] Skoll Foundation. (2015). About. (Online). Available: (Accessed March 1st, 2015)
[13] Schwab Foundation. (2015) About. (Online). Available: (Accessed March 1st, 2015)
[14] Yunus Center. (n.d) Social Business. (Online). Available: (Accessed March 1st, 2015)
[15] Global Social Benefit Institute. (2015). GSBI Programs. (Online). Available: (Accessed March 14, 2015)
[16] BRAC University (n.d). About (Online). Available: (Accessed March 14, 2015)
[17] Socialab. (2015). Socialab. (Online). Available: (Accessed March 14, 2015)
[18] T. Fitzgerald, “Documents and documentary analysis”. In Research Methods in Educational Leadership and Management, A. Brigss, A. and M. Coleman, Eds. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc, 2007, pp 278 – 294.
[19] M. Patton, Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc., 2002.
[20] J. Saldaña, The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers, 2nd ed. London: Sage Publications. 2013.
[21] M. B. Miles and A. M. Huberman, Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 1994.
[22] C. McNaught, and P. Lam, “Using Wordle as a supplementary research tool,” The qualitative report, vol 15, no 3, pp 630-643, 2010.
[23] R. Martin and S. Osberg, “Social Entrepreneurship: The case for definition,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, vol 5, no 2, pp. 28-39. 2007.
[24] M. Yunus, “Creating a world without poverty: social business and the future of capitalism,” Global Urban Development Magazine, vol 4, no 2, pp. 16 – 41. 2008.
[25] Santiago Sena. General Director of Social Entrepreneurship. Government of the city of Buenos Aires. Interview. April 27, 2015.
[26] Shamim Haque. Assistant Professor at Business School. BRAC University. Interview. April 22, 2015.
[27] Keith Douglass Warner. Senior Director of Education and Action Research. Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University. Interview. April 18, 2015.