Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 111, Issue 3, pp 321–334

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


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1412-5

Cite this article as:
Dees, J.G. J Bus Ethics (2012) 111: 321. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1412-5


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.


Social entrepreneurship Charity Social enterprise Social innovation Philanthropy 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, Fuqua School of BusinessDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations