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The great divides in social entrepreneurship and where they lead us

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Abstract and Figures

While social entrepreneurship (SE) as a field of study has progressed some distance over the past four decades, it is plagued by many unanswered, yet fundamental, questions. The SE literature is filled with an abundance of disputes, controversies, and alternative perspectives. Although this can suggest a healthy and robust discipline, it can also raise questions regarding the legitimacy and relevancy of the field, and uncertainty regarding where it is headed. In this research, we provide a systematic overview of major unresolved issues characterizing the contemporary study of SE in the form of thirteen divides. These divides cover such issues as social value creation, social innovation, nature of the process, agents, entrepreneurial orientation, scalability, venture creation, revenue sources, organizational outcomes, efficacy, and the appropriate disciplinary home. Rather than taking sides on each divide, we discuss how these diverse perspectives can be accommodated based on the process perspective. We present an inclusive approach to SE that provides a common platform for advancing the field while allowing for diverse streams of research.
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The great divides in social entrepreneurship and where they
lead us
Michael H. Morris &Susana C. Santos &
Donald F. Kuratko
#Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020
Abstract While social entrepreneurship (SE) as a field
of study has progressed some distance over the past four
decades, it is plagued by many unanswered, yet funda-
mental, questions. The SE literature is filled with an
abundance of disputes, controversies, and alternative
perspectives. Although this can suggest a healthy and
robust discipline, it can also raise questions regarding
the legitimacy and relevancy of the field, and uncertain-
ty regarding where it is headed. In this research, we
provide a systematic overview of major unresolved
issues characterizing the contemporary study of SE in
the form of thirteen divides. These divides cover such
issues as social value creation, social innovation, nature
of the process, agents, entrepreneurial orientation, scal-
ability, venture creation, revenue sources, organizational
outcomes, efficacy, and the appropriate disciplinary
home. Rather than taking sides on each divide, we
discuss how these diverse perspectives can be
accommodated based on the process perspective. We
present an inclusive approach to SE that provides a
common platform for advancing the field while
allowing for diverse streams of research.
Keywords Social entrepreneurship .Social innovation .
Social value creation .Social enterprise .Social process .
Disciplinary boundaries
JEL Classifications L26 .L25
1 Introduction
Social entrepreneurship (SE) has always been with us,
but only in the last 40 years has it become a subject of
study by scholars, and something policy officials and
community leaders have overtly attempted to facilitate.
It is a field (or, according to some, a sub-field) that
remains fairly ambiguous. Beyond widely acknowledged
disparities in how SE is defined and what its boundaries
are (e.g., Bacq and Janssen 2011; Dacin et al. 2010), it
represents an area of study where there is far more
disagreement than agreement over a wide range of issues.
Such vagueness can serve a positive purpose in terms of
enabling the field to advance but ultimately holds the
field back and can be its undoing. Not only does the lack
of clarity work against theory development and concep-
tualization, but it also makes the ability to prioritize
research questions or determine acceptable ways for in-
vestigating these questions problematic. It has led some
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-020-00318-y
M. H. Morris (*)
Keough School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame,
South Bend, IN 46556, USA
e-mail: mmorri24@nd.edu
S. C. Santos
Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, William G.
Rohrer College of Business, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ,
USA
e-mail: santossc@rowan.edu
D. F. Kuratko
Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Kelley School
of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
e-mail: dkuratko@indiana.edu
Published online: 4 February 2020
Small Bus Econ (2021) 57:1089–1106
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
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