Social Entrepreneurship and Its Competences: Implications for Higher Education

Social Entrepreneurship and Its Competences: Implications for Higher Education

Sue Rossano (Münster University of Applied Sciences, Germany), Thomas Baaken (Münster University of Applied Sciences, Germany), Balzhan Orazbayeva (Münster University of Applied Sciences, Germany), Marieke C. Baaken (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany & RUG Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands), Bert Kiel (Münster University of Applied Sciences, Germany) and Gideon Johannes Pieter Maas (Coventry University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8939-6.ch006
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Entrepreneurship needs a vision and leadership skills to accomplish it and a motivation to build something new, which will develop and sustain it. And society needs social entrepreneurs, contributing to a new organization of the welfare system, while making a difference and helping each other. The central theme in the existing social entrepreneurship literature is the pursuit of a social mission or objective. Thus, social entrepreneurs play a role as reformers and revolutionaries, who are intending to solve social problems, and not being answered by governmental policies. Entrepreneurial thinking and acting as well as innovation driving managers is a need for society. However, it is not the organization but the people, united by a proactive and market-driven culture, that are innovative and which combine to populate and to equip the organization with the required competencies. The chapter proposes a methodology to analyze the competencies that should be fostered by higher education programs to provide graduates with the desired competencies for entrepreneurship and driving innovation.
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Social entrepreneurship has gained popularity and support. Its popularity is reflected in the number of management and scholarly literature devoted to the topic (e.g., Chell, 2007; Chell et al., 2010; Dees and Anderson, 2006; Nicholls, 2010; Shaw and de Bruin, 2013, Sullivan Mort et al. 2003). In spite of the popularity of the field, there still remain questions with respect to the role of higher education in developing a solid set of skills among students as future social entrepreneurs and innovators. (Short et al., 2009)

Organizations such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have expressed concerns on the need for bridging the skills gap between what higher education systems nurture and what the society needs (Spear et al., 2013).

Social abilities such as coordinating with others and persuasion, as well as complex problem-solving skills, agility, and resiliency are essential in our society and the knowledge-based economy of the near future.

The question becomes whether a continued implementation of traditional approaches to learning is going to be helpful for students to be prepared for the economy and society in which they will have to operate. For today’s entrepreneurs, the greater challenge is to reverse key negative trends that preceded current challenges, such as rising inequalities, lack of social responsibility among market actors, and reliance on public budgets to deal with the consequences (Waring, 2018). In this respect, the role of universities is perceived as going beyond preparing students to meet the demands of the labor market (Pavlin et al., 2014). Following Teichler (2013, p. 422) graduates additionally need to be trained to deal with the uncertainties created by the threat (and sometimes the actuality) of changing environmental conditions, such as economic, social and/or political crises. This fact situates universities as mediating structures for the creative process of social entrepreneurship in linking the means for entrepreneurship (e.g., entrepreneurial competences) with its end-goals (e.g., wealth creation, value creation) (Bowen, 2018).

A core contribution of the present article hereby lies on relating the competences for entrepreneurship at the individual level, with the environmental level, particularly with the environmental change in the light of social entrepreneurship. The underlying drive for social entrepreneurship is the creation of social value as opposed to personal or shareholder wealth (Noruzi, et al., 2010; Thake and Zadek, 1997) and the activity of such social value creation is characterized by pattern-breaking change or innovation (Munshi, 2010; Noruzi et al., 2010, p. 4), through the creation of new combinations (Defourny and Nyssens, 2010).

Hence, it is argued in the present chapter that social entrepreneurs need to possess a certain set of competences that have been proved to help organizations to thrive in times of uncertainty and rapid change, particularly in an era of constant innovation. These competences relate to agility, resilience, and leadership for collaboration that need to be developed through entrepreneurship education. The development of these competences forms the basis of a new paradigm in Higher Education concerning entrepreneurship education. (Bowen, 2018, Le Deist, 2009).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cognitive Competences: A set of mental processes related to creative and critical thinking to develop new strategies for solving challenges and processes.

Peripatric Ambidexterity: It is a sort of ambidexterity linked to genetics.

Free-Rider Problem: Market failure that occurs when people take advantage of being able to use a common resource, or collective good, without paying for it.

Organizational Ambidexterity: The ability of a firm to efficiently manage and, simultaneously, being adapted to changes.

Storytelling: Narrative technique used to convince others about the bondages of an idea or plan.

European Qualification Framework: It consists of a common reference guide used in the European Union to make qualifications more readable and understandable.

Resilience: The capacity of persistence without hesitation in face of a challenge or problem, until it is solved or reached.

World Economic Forum: International non-profit organization aimed to reach a better world with the interaction of world leaders.

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