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Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 111, Issue 3, pp 335–351 | Cite as

A Positive Theory of Social Entrepreneurship

  • Filipe M. Santos
Article

Abstract

I propose a theory aimed at advancing scholarly research in social entrepreneurship. By highlighting the key trade-off between value creation and value capture and explaining when situations of simultaneous market and government failure may arise, I suggest that social entrepreneurship is the pursuit of sustainable solutions to neglected problems with positive externalities. I further discuss the situations in which problems with externalities are likely to be neglected and derive the central goal and logic of action of social entrepreneurs, in contrast to commercial entrepreneurs. Overall, this article provides a conceptual framework that allows understanding the growing phenomena of social entrepreneurship and its role in the functioning of modern society.

Keywords

Social entrepreneurship Theory development Market failure Capitalism Externalities Empowerment Sustainable solutions 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I thank the helpful feedback of Phil Anderson, Kathleen Eisenhardt, Michelle Rogan, Craig Smith, Andy Phillipps, Greg Dees, Pamela Hartigan, Andrew Dowlin, Maciej Workiewicz, Johanna Mair, and Nicola Pless. This paper was improved while in sabbatical during 2011 at the Nova School of Business and Economics in Lisbon.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INSEADFontainebleauFrance

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