'Just Add and Stir'? A Critical Appraisal of the 'Social' in Entrepreneurship Studies



Publication Details

Todres, M., Lewis, P. & Laffey, D. (2012). 'Just Add and Stir'? A Critical Appraisal of the 'Social' in Entrepreneurship Studies. Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference


Objectives : The objective of this critical review is to extend the perspectives which view entrepreneurship as a movement for social change. Our second objective is to better situate social enterprise within the wider field of entrepreneurship studies and to develop a new conceptual framework.

Prior Work : Two broad perspectives reconceptualise entrepreneurship as social change, namely the movements spearheaded by Hjorth and Ste yaert (2003, 2004, 2006, 2009) , and the feminist perspectives of Calás et al., (2009). In the former case, empirical examples have been cited to illustrate the activity of 'public entrepreneurship' and the ways in which individual citizens have created new civic spaces of sociality (Hjorth and Bjerke in Hjorth and Steyaert, 2006) . In the latter case, feminist perspectives, have demonstrated how entrepreneurship can counter gender inequality (Blake and Hanson, 2005) . In reviewing these empirical studies we aff irm a growing body highlighting the positive social outcomes (e.g., social capital enhancement, empowerment, raised aspirations) of entrepreneurship.

Approach : In addressing the emergence of social enterprise over the past 10- 15 years, we view such organisational configurations as explicit manifestations of the social mission inherent in entrepreneurship as social change . As a fruitful setting for research, we view discursive and narrative- based analytical methods (Hjorth and Steyaert, 2004) as being particularly suited to capturing fresh insights at the practitioner level of social enterprise.

Results : Our paper suggests further research avenues in social enterprise, informed by the narrative and discursive approaches emphasised by Hjorth and Steyaert (2004). In order to extend the boundaries of entrepreneurship research we develop a framework inspired by the communitarian values of Etzioni ( 1993) and capabilities theory of Nussbaum ( 1999). In charting further research directions underpinned by this framework, we argue that fresh insights will emerge regarding the potential of entrepreneurship to aid human development, to 'fully function and flourish' (Cornelius et al., 2008) as social and public entrepreneurs acknowledge their responsibilities as active citizens (Etzioni, 1993).

Implications : The implications of our review are that new research avenues and perspectives can inform entrepreneurship studies , over and above th e economic perspectives dominating the field. Value : Our paper reaffirms the perspective of entrepreneurship as social change, as well as the broadening of this field to include social enterprise, and finally yields the development of a new theoretical framework to aid this endeavour.

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