Lean Approach to Social Entrepreneurship

Lean Approach to Social Entrepreneurship

Adnan Veysel Ertemel (Istanbul Commerce University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5687-9.ch006
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This chapter proposes an alternate view to social entrepreneurship emphasizing that for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurship are in essence indifferent. It then discusses the latest trends in commercial entrepreneurship world together with implications on social entrepreneurship. In doing so, the lean startup phenomenon and closely related concepts, namely customer development philosophy, business model innovation, value proposition design, and jobs-to-be-done theory are explored with implications on social entrepreneurship.
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Defining Social Entrepreneurship

One of the notable definitions define social entrepreneurship as one that creates innovative solutions to immediate social problems and mobilizes the ideas, capacities, resources, and social arrangements required for sustainable social transformations (Alvord, Brown, & Letts, 2004).

In years, another related term called social enterprise has emerged. Social enterprise sees social venture as a for-profit entity that pursues a social mission. Dees (1994) first defined social enterprise as a private organization dedicated to solving social problems and providing socially important goods. Social enterprises combine innovation, entrepreneurship and social purpose and seek to be financially sustainable by generating revenue from trading. Social entrepreneurship is about applying the best of for-profit entrepreneurship to the pursuit of a social mission, or purpose. Thus, social entrepreneurship is a means to making nonprofit organizations less bureaucratic (Dees, 1998).

Complying this point of view, this study adopts Robinson’s (2006) definition of social entrepreneurship which is defined as:

a process that includes: the identification of a specific social problem and a specific solution, the evaluation of the social impact, the business model and the sustainability of the venture; and the creation of a social mission-oriented for-profit or a business-oriented nonprofit entity that pursues economic, social, and environmental outcomes.

Having introduced this new school of thought, Dees further suggest that social entrepreneurship is at one end of the scale representing non-profit (purely philanthropic) entrepreneurship, whereas for-profit (purely commercial) entrepreneurship is at the other end. In between is the hybrid model compromising the two extremes.

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