Enterprising Social Innovation: Focusing Research on the Most Intriguing Form of Social Entrepreneurship

By J. Gregory Dees and Beth Battle Anderson

[This is an edited excerpt from a longer paper by the same authors entitled “Framing a Theory of Social Entrepreneurship: Building on Two Schools of Practice and Thought.” The original paper was published in Research on Social Entrepreneurship: Understanding and Contributing to an Emerging Field, ARNOVA Occasional Paper Series, vol. 1 no. 3, edited by Rachel Mosher-Williams, 2006.] Society seems headed down a path of blurring sector boundaries, and we would do well to understand better what might lie ahead. If we do not deepen our knowledge of these kinds of approaches, we are likely to fumble around in the dark, making more mistakes than necessary. Success will depend on a better understanding of how to effectively combine elements from the business world and the social sector, and how to recognize the limits and risks. This arena is where we should focus most of our limited time and resources. Doing so will not only serve academia well; more importantly, it will be of great value to society.