Complexity, Cultural Evolution, and the Discovery and Creation of (Social) Entrepreneurial Opportunities: Exploring a Memetic Approach

Part of the FGF Studies in Small Business and Entrepreneurship book series (FGFS)


The central contribution of this chapter consists in exploring the implications of a memetic perspective for dealing with complexity in (social) entrepreneurship. The line of argument can basically be divided into four aspects. First, it is argued that memes, especially their mental representations, can be conceptualized in the context of (cultural) schemata that have an impact on the perception and discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities. Second, a memetic view of creativity also suggests that opportunity creation strongly depends on memes. Third, viewing social entrepreneurship as a meme(plex) allows us to compare it with related concepts. Moreover, we argue that by focusing on the properties of social entrepreneurial opportunities we can get to the core of the social entrepreneurial process. In this chapter, we are focusing on social entrepreneurial opportunities that can be understood as the intersection of the set of ‘opportunities to solve a societal problem’ and the set of ‘profitable business opportunities’. This conception represents the vantage point for the fourth part of this contribution, where we argue that, in order to facilitate the propagation of the social entrepreneurship meme within (for-profit) organizations, a systematic analysis of the firm’s social network as well as its memeplex is advisable.


Memes Schemata (Social) Entrepreneurial opportunities Social entrepreneurship Social innovation 



We have benefited from presenting earlier versions of this chapter at the 18th Annual Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship Conference (G-Forum), November 13–14, 2014 in Oldenburg, Germany, and the European Academy of Management (EURAM) Annual Conference, June 17–20, 2015 at Kozminski University in Warsaw, Poland. We are grateful for helpful questions, criticism, and suggestions from participants of both events. Special thanks to Elisabeth Berger, Sue Blackmore, Anna Comacchio, Jameson Gill, Ilfryn Price, and four anonymous reviewers (two for EURAM, two for this book) for their valuable comments. Moreover, we would like to thank Nicholas Terry for voluntarily pointing out a couple of spelling and punctuation errors. All remaining confusion and mistakes are exclusively our own.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business Ethics, Institute of Economic and Business Education (560)University of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Konstanz Institute of Corporate Governance (KICG)Hochschule Konstanz University of Applied Sciences (HTWG)ConstanceGermany

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