Resources on social entrepreneurship: for further reading

Inclusive Economy30 Oct 2013The Broker

This is a list of selected reports, papers, and articles, including a summary. In the second table a selection of books worth to read on social entrepreneurship.

Title publication Institute or authors Summary
The Meaning of Social Entrepreneurship J. Gregory Dees

Original Draft 1998/ Reformatted and revised 2001

Dees is one of the most quoted experts on social entrepreneurship. This article gives an overview of the concept, its theory and the origins.
An Interview With Michael Porter: Social Entrepreneurship and the transformation of Capitalism Driver, Michaela (2012)

In: Academy of Management Learning & Education, Vol. 11, No. 3.

In this interview Michael Porter explores social entrepreneurship in the context of a larger transformation of capitalism. He suggests that social entrepreneurship is an important transitional vehicle toward the creation of shared value and a capitalist system in which meeting social needs is not just a peripheral activity but a core aspect of every business. Porter discusses the implications of this perspective on social entrepreneurship with a view to new opportunities but also responsibilities for educators in the field. I examine how this fits with but also extends current debates on social entrepreneurship. The paper concludes by examining where Porter’s ideas may take us and reflecting on social entrepreneurship education as conversations about the social becoming more entrepreneurial but also the entrepreneurial becoming more social.
The EMES approach of social enterprise in a comparative perspective. EMES, J. Defourny, M. M. Nyssens (2013).

Working paper.

The objective of the paper is to deepen the transatlantic dialogue between social enterprise debates as embodied in their respective European and US contexts, as well as to underline distinct developments they now tend to experience. However, what seems really at stake, beyond conceptual debates, is the place and the role of social enterprise within the overall economy and its interaction with the market, the civil society and public policies. It gives an overview of the dimensions of what a social enterprise has to deal with, namely integrating economic, social and governance values in their organization.
Social economy and social entrepreneurship – Social Europe guide, Vol. 4 European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (2013) This guide describes the vivid world of social economy organisations (such as cooperatives, associations, mutuals and foundations) as well as the more recent phenomenon of social entrepreneurship, i.e. business created to achieve social rather than financial goals. In addition, it illustrates trends towards greater social responsibility among citizens/consumers, for-profit companies and financial institutions. Finally it reviews ways in which European and national policies support the social economy and social enterprise.
Policy Brief on Social Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial Activities in Europe, Publications Office of the European Union European Commission & OECD (2013) This policy brief examines the scale and nature of social enterprise in Europe. It considers the question of how to define social enterprise. Furthermore, it analyses data on the prevalence of social enterprises in several developed economies, with discussion of the challenges of measuring social entrepreneurship. It then looks at how social enterprises are created, barriers to their creation, and examples of legal, policy and financial frameworks that can assist social enterprise formation. In addition, it discusses the arguments for public policies that support social enterprise development. The brief concludes that social enterprises fill an important economic and social niche, but cannot be seen as a panacea for public sector service cuts. Finally it calls for further policy support for social enterprise development.
Creating a favourable climate for social enterprises, key stakeholders in the social economy and innovation European Commission (2011) Communication of the European Commission to the Parliament on Social Business Initiative. Also interesting is the European Commission (2013) Overview on all communication of the European Commission on the Social Business Initiative, European Commission The EU Single Market website The European Commission believes that more responsible businesses can foster more growth in Europe. They can realise social cohesion, employment and the reduction of inequalities. This is why the Commission wants to contribute to the creation of a favourable environment for the development of social business in Europe, and of the social economy at large. To facilitate this, in 2011, the Commission came up with the Social Business Initiative. This initiative should help the emerging social enterprising sector to fulfil its unexploited potential. It offers a short-term action plan to promote the creation and development of social enterprises. The plan contains 11 priority measures, organised around 3 themes: 1. Making it easier for social enterprises to obtain funding; 2. Increasing the visibility of social entrepreneurship; 3. Making the legal environment friendlier for social enterprises.
Social Enterprise explained. For beginners, wonderers and people with ideas, big and small Social Enterprise UK in association with Unity Trust (2011) Social Enterprise UK is the body for social enterprise – business with a social or environmental mission. It support business where society profits. This guide explains the concept of social enterprise, treats opportunities, describes what people can do by themselves to get involved with the social enterprise movement. It explains how to start up a social enterprise. To clarify the concept, it explains the differences from conventional businesses and charities.
Social Entrepreneurship as an Algorithm: Is Social Enterprise Sustainable? Jeff Trexler (2008)

In: E:CO Issue Vol. 10 No. 3 pp. 65-85

Jeff Trexler of the Pace University in the United States writes a critical article that reminds us that social en-terprise is an adaptive response to the loss of coherence in corporate identity. The hybrid form of it makes it vague for any definition. The fluidity of the concept makes it difficult to see social entrepreneurship as an own identity, even to serve in niche markets. The obsession to separate social entrepreneurship as a new, innovative model that is here to stay, is according to Trexler not evident, the core question for facing social enterprise in all its complexity is not so much whether it will last but how best to exhibit what corporate life should be.
Social Enterprise: A new model for poverty reduction and employment generation. An examination of the concept and practice in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States & EMES, European Research Network (2008) . This publication reviews the results of a two-year social enterprise study in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The report shows that social enterprises provide an innovative approach and are effective as poverty reduction agents that can contribute to the promotion of cohesive communities. It finds that traditional development initiatives often focus on bolstering or the private sector, or the state, while ignoring organizations that combine for-profit activities with social aims. It covers 12 post-communist countries and includes three in-depth sections devoted to the social enterprise phenomenon. It suggests a number of ways to promote social enterprises in transition countries, including efforts to make the legal and political environments more favourable, holding outreach and advocacy initiatives that engage decision makers and the public, setting up agencies specifically designed to support social enterprises, and providing ‘seed money’ and small grants aiming to sustain social enterprises.
Adolescents and Civil Engagement: Social Entrepreneurship and Young People. A summary of the role of social entrepreneurship in the development of young people, communities and the achievement of the MDGs UNICEF (2007), Adolescent Development And Participation Unit Programme Division Over the last two decades the term “social entrepreneurship” has emerged as a recognisable field in development work. This growing interest began in the 1980s with the emergence of two schools of practice that aimed to invest in young people to promote positive social change and innovative solutions that can be sustained and replicated. On the one hand The Social Enterprise School presents social entrepreneurship as “social enterprise” initiatives. On the other hand The Social Innovation School views social entrepreneurship as the initiatives of innovators pursuing social change and aiming to alleviate a particular social problem. This study particularly focuses on social entrepreneurship and youth and highlights the importance of the social entrepreneurial approach in contributing towards the development of critical skills and competencies of young people to positively engage in society, exercise leadership and involve in social change.
Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy Project UNRISD (2012- 2013) UNRISD project that seeks to Understand the conditions and contexts that enable social and solidarity economy (SSE) to expand. And assess the implications of such processes and interactions with external actors and institutions for realizing the potential of SSE as a distinctive approach to development. The project website contains conference papers, presentations, podcasts and an event brief, and a series of about thirty think pieces from around the world.
Breaking the Binary: Policy Guide to Scaling Social Innovation World Economic Forum and Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship (2013) The report intents to add a perspective to the global conversation about how to move beyond binary choices in crafting responses to social, economic, and environmental challenges. It is about leveraging private enterprise and capital for public benefit, referred to as social innovation. The reports examines what role can and should government play to catalyse social innovation. It starts articulating a framework for credible, realistic policy action that governments can take to turn social entrepreneurship into a major force for innovation. It recognizes that a “one size fits all” approach does not work for countries and regions in different stages of development. The second section of the Policy Guide profiles leading social enterprises in the Schwab Foundation network working in specific domains: education, health, employment, urban development and rural development.


Social entrepreneurship, Teaching Resources Handbook, For Faculty Engaged in Teaching and Research in Social Entrepreneurship Debbie D. Brock & Ashoka’s Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship, January 2008, 86 p.
Robert Ashton, 2010: How to be a social entrepreneur. Make money & change the world, Capstone Publ., Chichester, 290 p.
Centre for Social Markets, November 2011: Made in Bangalore – How Social Enterprise is Transforming Business-as-usual, 95 p.
Context, 2010: Social Return On Investment. A practical guide for the development cooperation sector, Utrecht, 60 p.
Bob Doherty et al. 2009, 2012, Management for Social Enterprise, SAGE, 246 p.
Kerri Golden, Allyson Hewitt and Michelle McBane, 2010: Enabling Solutions to Complex Social Problems, MaRS Discovery District, Ontario, 10 p.
Robert Gunn, Christopher Durkin (eds.), 2010, Social Entrepreneurship: A Skills Approach, Policy Press, 200 p.
Zachary D. Kaufman, 2012, Social Entrepreneurship in the Age of Atrocities: Changing Our World, Edward Elgar Publishing, 304 p.
Frank Martin, Marcus Thompson, 2010: Social Enterprise. Developing sustainable businesses, Palgrave Macmillan, 251 p.
Rory Ridley-Duff, Mike Bull, 2011, Understanding Social Enterprise. Theory & Practice, SAGE, London, 286 p.
Freer Spreckley, 2011: Social Enterprise Planning Toolkit. A practical guide on how to prepare and write a feasibility study for setting up a social enterprise, The British Council, 68 p.
Fons van der Velden (ed.), 2011, New approaches to international development cooperation. A tribute to Meindert Witvliet, Context, Utrecht, 243 p.