Social Entrepreneurship: Beyond the Hype

33 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2010

See all articles by Aneel G. Karnani

Aneel G. Karnani

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Date Written: February 2010


While social entrepreneurship has been attracting increasing attention, it is not clear what it really is. I argue that the term ‘social entrepreneurship’ is too ambiguous to be useful. It is more appropriate to characterize a particular organization, be it public, for-profit or not-for-profit, by how entrepreneurial it is and how much social value it creates. This article discusses the distinct characteristics of the three types of organizations. I then argue that the boundaries between these three sectors are not getting blurred; more importantly, it is better to sustain these boundaries.

Keywords: Social entrepreneurship, civil society, social value, market failures

JEL Classification: M14, L33, M13

Suggested Citation

Karnani, Aneel G., Social Entrepreneurship: Beyond the Hype (February 2010). Ross School of Business Paper No. 1142, Available at SSRN: or

Aneel G. Karnani (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

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