The world of the social entrepren...
IJPSM 15,5 412 The International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 15 No. 5, 2002, pp. 412-431. # MCB UP Limited, 0951-3558 DOI 10.1108/09513550210435746 The world of the social entrepreneur John L. Thompson Huddersfield University Business School, Huddersfield, UK Keywords Entrepreneurialism, Voluntary organizations, Leadership Abstract The term ``social entrepreneurship'' is being adopted and used more extensively, but its meaning is not widely understood. In particular, the scope of social entrepreneurship in both business and the voluntary sector has not been mapped effectively. This paper seeks to do this. It begins by defining social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurship. Then, using projects considered for a charter award under the Duke of York's 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 paper includes two case studies of successful social entrepreneurs as a means of drawing out a number of important issues and lessons. It provides a new map for understanding the complexity and the many facets of the world of the social entrepreneur and the voluntary sector. It questions whether the UK government's stated desire for an ``explosive act'' of volunteering can happen without more substantial support, and concludes that whilst the growth of this sector is urgent and vital, a number of hurdles remain to be overcome. Introduction In The Rise of the Social Entrepreneur, Leadbeater 1997) concluded that the British welfare system was in need of radical reforms if it was to deal effectively with the social and other demands of the late 1990s and beyond. A major contribution to this could be made by social innovations �� new, creative and imaginative community initiatives �� led by enterprising people. This accords with the commonly-held view that the welfare system cannot, and almost certainly never will, meet all the demands placed on it. As governments and economies around the world change, the real extent of the resources available to the welfare system rise and fall. Moreover, priorities among different sectors also change. When financial support is cut back, as has happened recently in the USA, the shortfall issues become more acute, increasing the relative significance of the voluntary sector. While the term ``social entrepreneurship'' is being adopted and used more extensively, its meaning is not widely understood. Many social entrepreneurs would not describe themselves as ``entrepreneurs'' or feel comfortable with that terminology. In particular, the scope of social entrepreneurship in both business and the voluntary sector has not been mapped effectively. Among others, Handy 1988) and Drucker 1989) have discussed management issues in the voluntary sector, but they have not set out to explain the full extent of the sector. The main purpose of this paper is to draft a new map for understanding the complexity and diversity of social entrepreneurship and the voluntary The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/0951-3558.htm The author acknowledges a contribution from Dr W.K. Bolton to the ``issues'' section in this paper
The world of the social entrepreneur 413 sector �� or the third sector, as some prefer to call it �� and at the same time comment on the nature and effectiveness of the support that is available to those involved in the sector. Social entrepreneurship has not been the subject of many academic papers, but research projects are beginning to be reported, certainly in the national press. Social entrepreneurs do not generally receive the same media coverage that certain business entrepreneurs do, however successful they might be and however significant their contribution �� although, inevitably, there are exceptions to this. Hopefully, this paper will help engineer a more extensive debate on the issues. While the paper has a UK perspective, the underlying points and arguments will be relevant for other countries and cultures as the issues it addresses are not unique to the UK. Entrepreneurs are ``people who, often habitually, create and innovate to build something of recognised value around perceived opportunities'' Bolton and Thompson, 2000). Opportunity is at the heart of their activities. They can be found in all walks of life for the capital they create can be social or artistic aesthetic) rather than financial. Social capital encompasses things that are valuable to communities artistic or aesthetic capital embraces design, music, art and architecture, things which both give us a feel-good factor and have an impact on the physical environment. Kao 1993) defined entrepreneurship as ``the process of adding something new [creativity] and something different [innovation] for the purpose of creating wealth for the individual and adding value to society''. This helps explain why social entrepreneurs can be found in: . profit-seeking businesses that have some commitment to doing good and helping society and the environment with their strategies and financial donations . social enterprises which are set up with a largely social purpose, but which are still businesses . the voluntary sector. Many social entrepreneurs, then, are people with the qualities and behaviours we associate with the business entrepreneur but who operate in the community and are more concerned with caring and helping than with ``making money''. In many cases, they help change people's lives because they embrace important social causes. However, many do recognise the importance of fund raising and financial resources, skills they will require. Although social entrepreneurship is in evidence in many profit-seeking businesses �� sometimes in their strategies and activities, sometimes through donations of money and time �� the main world of the social entrepreneur is the voluntary sector. While it is difficult to determine the true size of the voluntary sector, we know that in terms of hours ``worked'' the sector as a whole is the third largest employer in the UK, behind the National Health Service and ``government''. Drucker 1989) clarified that costed at a minimum wage level,
IJPSM 15,5 414 the corresponding US voluntary sector equated to 5 per cent of gross domestic product. It is not thought to be as high in the UK. The growth of Business in the Community and other initiatives has shown that some social entrepreneurs are clearly seasoned and successful business entrepreneurs and executives who wish to ``put something back'' into society, both before and after they retire from, or reduce their commitment to, their main occupation. Many others, though, are either much less experienced in business or less aware of what they are taking on at the outset, or both. They are people on a voyage of self discovery and they often start with only limited self-confidence. They come from all areas of society and have a wide range of ages and backgrounds. They are driven by a cause or a need they have spotted and taken up. The reality that the welfare system either cannot or will not meet the many and varied needs of communities, and society ensures there are always needs. The basic test of the value of any individual initiative is the extent to which it would be missed if it were no longer in existence. The present UK government has recognised this needs-provision gap and both Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown have drawn attention to the invaluable role of social entrepreneurs and the voluntary sector. In the first half of this century we learnt that the community cannot achieve its aims without the help of government providing essential services and a backdrop of security. In the second half of the century we learnt that government cannot achieve its aims without the energy and commitment of others �� voluntary organisations, business and, crucially, the wider public . . . I have always believed that the bonds that individuals make with each other and their communities are every bit as important as the things provided for them by the state . . . Every year thousands of social entrepreneurs achieve extraordinary things in difficult circumstances . . . For all the millions who get involved [in community initiatives and the voluntary sector] there are millions more who would get involved if they knew how . . . So I set down a challenge: That we mark the Millennium with an explosion in ``acts of community'' that touch people's lives extracted from a speech by Prime Minister Tony Blair in January 1999). Many volunteers do demonstrate the adage that ``ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things'' if they set their mind to the task in hand and remain committed. However, this does not mean they could not benefit from carefully targeted help and support �� beyond the obvious provision of grants and funding. In terms of start-up training, for example, those people interested in starting a small manufacturing or service business will find relevant public sector help, although there is some scepticism about the effectiveness of some of the programmes available. In part this is because training is sometimes offered without evaluating the potential of a person to benefit from it. In the case of businesses and community ventures alike, training alone will not create an entrepreneur. Bolton and Thompson 2000) emphasise the significance of talents inherited gifts) and temperament needs and drives). But the fact remains that there is no widely-available and visible equivalent of start-up business training for the would-be social entrepreneur. In this paper we look at what social entrepreneurs do and achieve, at the wide scope of their world, and at the help that is available and needed. We