Introduction to the Special Section on Social Entrepreneurship

By Paul N. Bloom

Social entrepreneurs are leaders of ventures that employ innovative approaches to address social problems. Their innovations can emerge in the ways the products or services of the venture function; the ways they are distributed and delivered; the advocacy approach of the venture; the ways the venture accumulates and deploys financial, human, and other resources; or the ways the venture’s networks or partnerships are configured. A dominant characteristic of most social entrepreneurs is having a passionate desire to scale social impact. This often means desiring to grow their organization to reach and serve more people in more places, but it could also mean becoming successful at improving people’s lives through influencing laws, regulations, or cultural norms.  Interest in social entrepreneurship has grown dramatically in recent years. Many influential people in business, government, philanthropy, and nonprofit organizations have come to believe that social entrepreneurship holds promise for helping alleviate many of the world’s most pressing problems in ways that cannot be accomplished by either bureaucratic governments or charity-oriented philanthropic organizations.

Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 31(1): 73-74, 2012