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Social Entrepreneurship 2020: Delivering on Expectations (HSG 2010)

4 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2010  

Maximilian Martin

University of St. Gallen

Date Written: August 16, 2010


Social entrepreneurship is an important driver of global change. There is a sense that it might be the key ingredient to a new social contract for the 21st century. Though referred to extensively as a concept, there is no single definition of the subject. Defined as finding ways to combine existing resources in novel ways that yield added social value, social entrepreneurship is a perennial phenomenon: throughout human history, there have been people who have found innovative ways to fulfill social needs. As understood today, social entrepreneurs typically use market mechanisms to deliver a good or a service in a highly effective fashion to a marginalized or poor population that would not have the same level of access to the good or service otherwise. Social entrepreneurial ideas and ambitions are now present in many areas, including companies who do not just look for marketable corporate social responsibility, but authentic engagement, philanthropists who want catalytic philanthropy, or governments who promote social entrepreneurship directly.

As a concept, social entrepreneurship began to be theorized in the 1980s, based on the work of Bill Drayton, the founder of the pioneering institution of social entrepreneurship, Ashoka. Social entrepreneurship was widely discussed in the media in the 1990s for the first time. Subsequently, an increasing number of individuals and organizations began to devote their attention to elaborating some aspect of social entrepreneurship. In 2010, there were several thousand social entrepreneurs organized in global networks, and many more individuals and organizations who referred to themselves as social entrepreneurs or social enterprises.

Given the field’s progress and the increasing public attention paid to social entrepreneurship, it is key to accelerate impact growth of existing social entrepreneurs, and find new ways of drawing additional talent into the equation. There are both many successes to learn from and many construction sites. This course asks pragmatically what we can do make sure social entrepreneurship delivers on our implicit expectations.

Keywords: Social entrepreneurship, social finance, impact investing

JEL Classification: L31

Suggested Citation

Martin, Maximilian, Social Entrepreneurship 2020: Delivering on Expectations (HSG 2010) (August 16, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Maximilian Martin (Contact Author)

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Tigerbergstrasse 2
St. Gallen, CH-9000

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