Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability

Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability

João M. S. Carvalho (University of Minho, Portugal & University Institute of Maia, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3525-6.ch007


This chapter provides a summarized and objective review over the relationships among innovation, social innovation, entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, new business models (NBM), value proposition and sustainability (economic, social, ecological, and psychological). A study has been done in Porto region through interviews with 13 social innovators and entrepreneurs to evaluate those relationships. The conceptual base for the analysis presented in this chapter is tetrad-value theory. It has been concluded that market-oriented social innovation has a crucial role in the social entrepreneurship development. Moreover, these NBM should be adjusted to population needs towards societal well-being, by combining creation of shared value, co-creation of value, and multiple value creation. Thus, a transformational value proposition contributes to economic, social, ecological, and psychological sustainability, and consequently to human, social and territorial development.
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This chapter begins with the theoretical framework that underlies the concepts of entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial partnerships, innovation, social innovation, sustainability, new business models (NBM), and the relations among them and their impact on regional development.

For the purpose of this chapter, the theory developed since the international presentation of Carvalho, Sousa, Ferreira, Silva, & Novo (2013), first published by Carvalho and Jonker (2015) and coined as tetrad-value theory (Carvalho & Sousa, 2015) was applied to the analysis of 13 cases of social innovation and entrepreneurship. The main characteristics of these NBM were assessed, as well as their link to a balanced value proposition (Carvalho & Jonker, 2015) that considers economic, ecological, social, and psychological factors, which contribute to a broader concept of sustainability (Carvalho, 2016). These case studies illustrate what is happening in Porto region in terms of social innovation and social entrepreneurship. The methodology followed is qualitative, based on interviews with the leaders of the projects and institutions. The analysis allows to draw conclusions about the new trends of social innovation in the region and in Portugal, as well as the adjustment of the social sector to population needs and towards a societal well-being, helping to reduce social exclusion.

The impact on regional and national development is perceived indirectly by the positive impact of these organizations on economic, ecological, social, and psychological sustainability. The latter is a new broad concept developed in connection to the concepts of psychological value (Carvalho & Jonker, 2015) and mental well-being (European Union, 2011).

The NBM analyzed here show the importance of the concepts of creation of social and shared value (Austin & Seitanidi, 2012b; Porter & Kramer, 2011); co-creative networks (Chatterjee, 2013; Zott, Amit, & Massa, 2011); and multiple value creation (Carvalho, 2016; Elkington, 1997).

In the end of the chapter, a new model is presented, which considers psychological sustainability as the fourth pillar of human, social, and territorial development – societal sustainability.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Innovation: Generation of new ideas, processes, products or services that are successful in the market.

Economic Sustainability: Financial equilibrium through an efficient use of resources, producing the products (goods, services, ideas) that satisfy the customers/clients/users and other stakeholders.

Psychological Sustainability: Mental well-being manifested by healthy behaviors and feelings of fulfilment and happiness.

Entrepreneurial Partnerships: Collaboration between sectors (non-profit, business, government, academia, civil society) in order to promote innovation and new ventures.

Ecological Sustainability: Conservation of natural resources, environment and biodiversity.

Social Sustainability: Preservation of social cohesion in terms of social well-being, nutrition, shelter, health, education, justice, social equity, quality of life, etc.

Social Entrepreneurship: Creation of something (company, product, project), most of the times through an organization, to serve and satisfy human needs (social and psychological), where the promoter has the main purpose to contribute to the resolution of a social problem.

Social Innovation: Generation of new ideas, processes, products or services that are successful in the resolution of social issues.

Societal Sustainability: The outcome of the contributions of all complementary aspects of sustainability: economic viability, ecological stewardship, social equity, and psychological balance.

Business model: Conceptual and operational tool that describes the value proposition (economic, social, ecological and psychological value) offered to the stakeholders through a product (good, service or idea), the organization and coordination of key activities (team and partners), and the design of a marketing plan, to deliver those values and achieve economic, social, ecological, and psychological sustainability.

Entrepreneurship: Creation of something (company, product, project), most of the times through an organization, in order to serve and satisfy human wants and needs.

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