Faculty & Leadership Blog / Faculty in the News

Energy And Enthusiasm For Social Entrepreneurship

Yesterday I was a keynote speaker at the 13th Summit on Research and Education in Social Entrepreneurship at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway.   http://www.ntnu.edu/

The event was attended by roughly 100 people and I had the opportunity to learn about what efforts are being made in social entrepreneurship in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.   One of the communities in Denmark is developing a strategy for a socially aware economy, while Norway now has an eco-labeling program whereby businesses can be designated as green by saving energy, recycling and carrying out other activities.  The dialogue seemed to focus on a dichotomy between commercial and social entrepreneurship.

I presented a typology of entrepreneurial ventures (traditional, social purpose, social impact and enterprising non-profits) from an article I published with Heidi Neck and Elaine Allen (2009) “The Landscape of Social Entrepreneurship” Business Horizons.  Several people appreciated an alternative approach which brings out the degrees of social/or economic includes hybrid organizations.

I also talked about the pressures on colleges and universities from alumni, students, businesses, community, and external organizations to shift research to social entrepreneurship topics, make changes in curriculum to reflect social outcomes/social value/and ethics, and sponsor activities for students and alumni to participate in.

I also spoke about the four key challenges schools have in this area:  definition and positioning; structure, partnerships and activities and teaching.  Because Babson College has adopted a strategy of “entrepreneurship of all kinds, in all contexts” I was able to present an example of how we require our students to learn about social value/social entrepreneurship/ethics as part of our core curriculum.

Further there was great interest in the way we have structured our Lewis Institute as a resource for the entire College, and all students, as opposed to a few select students.  Babson’s MBA program is 26th on the global 100  in the Beyond Grey Pinstripes rankings.

Another point that received great interest was the notion that to teach social entrepreneurship, we need to consider creative rather than predictive logic—because many of the social problems we are trying to solve through entrepreneurial means are “wicked” problems with complicated components, diverse stakeholders and ambiguous environments.

It was great to see such energy and enthusiasm for social entrepreneurship!

Candida G. Brush, Professor of Entrepreneurship
Franklin W. Olin Chair in Entrepreneurship
Chair- Entrepreneurship Division
Director- Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship
Babson College