, Volume 111, Issue 3, pp 321-334
Date: 17 Aug 2012

A Tale of Two Cultures: Charity, Problem Solving, and the Future of Social Entrepreneurship

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Abstract

Two cultures are at play in the field of social entrepreneurship: an age-old culture of charity, and a more contemporary culture of entrepreneurial problem solving. These cultures permeate activities from resource providers to front line operations. Both have roots in our psychological responses to the needs of others and are reinforced by social norms. They can work hand-in-hand or they can be at odds. Some of the icons of the social entrepreneurship movement have spoken harshly about charity, yet most of them rely to some degree, at least early in their development process, on resources that are given out of a charitable impulse. The success of social entrepreneurship requires an integration of values from each of these cultures, in which the satisfactions of giving are correlated with social benefits of rigorous problem solving.