Defining the ‘Social’ in ‘Social Entrepreneurship’: Altruism and Entrepreneurship


What is social entrepreneurship? In, particular, what’s so social about it? Understanding what social entrepreneurship is enables researchers to study the phenomenon and policy-makers to design measures to encourage it. However, such an understanding is lacking partly because there is no universally accepted definition of entrepreneurship as yet. In this paper, we suggest a definition of social entrepreneurship that intuitively accords with what is generally accepted as entrepreneurship and that captures the way in which entrepreneurship may be altruistic. Based on this we provide a taxonomy of social entrepreneurship and identify a number of real cases from Asia illustrating the different forms it could take.

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Correspondence to Wee-Liang Tan.

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Tan, WL., Williams, J. & Tan, TM. Defining the ‘Social’ in ‘Social Entrepreneurship’: Altruism and Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Mgt. 1, 353–365 (2005).

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  • social entrepreneurship
  • definition
  • taxonomy
  • altruism