Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum

No 2012:9: Social entrepreneurship – a survey of current research

Pontus Braunerhjelm () and Ulrika Stuart Hamilton
Additional contact information
Pontus Braunerhjelm: Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum, Postal: Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum, Örebro University, SE-70182 ÖREBRO, Sweden
Ulrika Stuart Hamilton: Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum, Postal: Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum, Örebro University, SE-70182 ÖREBRO, Sweden

Abstract: The phenomenon of social entrepreneurship, sometimes denoted societal entrepreneurship, receives increased attention and popularity by policy makers, opinion leaders, as well as by researchers. The concept lacks a rigorous definition and in this survey we list a number of alternative definitions and classifications made in recent research. These are based on comparisons between social entrepreneurship and other forms of organization, the core elements supposed to accrue to social entrepreneurship and on identification of environmental factors in which social entrepreneurs operate. In addition, despite the strong recent increase in research interest comprising several schools of thought, there is a lack of reliable data. One of the few comprehensive attempts to collect comparable data is the 2009 GEM study, measuring levels of social entrepreneurship activity in 45 countries. In this working paper we contribute an intrapolated figure for Sweden using cubic splines, which shows that Sweden ranks in the middle of the European countries. At the political decision level both the European Union and individual member states begin to adopt or suggest special legal framework conditions, including beneficial treatment, for so called social enterprises. The paper concludes that there are a limited number of studies using quantitative methods, a lack of rigorous hypothesis testing, little variety in research design, a need for an unambiguous definition that can serve as a foundation for future research and a thorough analysis of the contributions to society that can be attributed social entrepreneurship.

Keywords: entrepreneurship; social

JEL-codes: A00

57 pages, February 1, 2012

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