Social Entrepreneurship and All That Funk..

27 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2015 Last revised: 28 Feb 2015

See all articles by Michael Pirson

Michael Pirson

Fordham University - Gabelli School of Business; Humanistic Management Network; Harvard University

Date Written: January 30, 2015


Social Entrepreneurship as a concept, while new to some, has become a buzzword in recent years; so much so that its usage far outpaces its understanding. That state of affairs is troubling because it risks undermining the promise of social entrepreneurship (Pirson & Bloom, 2012), while at the same legitimizing all kinds of organizing by sticking new labels on old (and sometimes bad) practices (Pirson, 2012a).

While the claim is that the term social entrepreneurship has first been used by Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka, in the 1970’s, the practice of social entrepreneurship has been in existence for centuries. However, in current times the term can describe an ever increasing and ever more relevant phenomenon. A phenomenon that is and probably will never be narrowly defined and therefore provides many ways of understanding: as entrepreneurship in a social context, as the social component of the entrepreneurial process, as socially conscious business, as revenue generating non-profit, as different from non-profit, yet overlapping with social mission work etc. etc. etc.

In this chapter I wish to propose a clarification of what social entrepreneurship is and how it differs from other socially oriented and entrepreneurially oriented activities. I will also propose that one of the more productive uses of the term implies a certain mindset (Pirson, 2015). I will then highlight some versions of social entrepreneurship as case examples and argue that social entrepreneurship can be studied at a university (Pirson, 2015). I then propose an outline of the process along which it can be studied and put in practice process as based on my teaching experience in SE for now almost 10 years (Bloom & Pirson, 2010).

Keywords: Social Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise, Teaching

JEL Classification: M00, J00, L00, N00

Suggested Citation

Pirson, Michael, Social Entrepreneurship and All That Funk.. (January 30, 2015). Fordham University Schools of Business Research Paper No. 2558239, Humanistic Management Network, Research Paper Series No. 01/15, Available at SSRN: or

Michael Pirson (Contact Author)

Fordham University - Gabelli School of Business ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10018
United States

Humanistic Management Network ( email )

St. Gallen

Harvard University

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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