Social Entrepreneurship: Advancing the Research Agenda
One example of social entrepreneurship is Elijah’s Promise, a nonprofit soup kitchen in New Jersey that operates a for-profit restaurant and catering service open to the public. This initiative is a considered a social venture because restaurant profits provide earned-income that is reinvested into the nonprofit's essential services thereby creating a sustainable financing model. Similarly, for-profit concerns also engage in SE behavior. Panera Bread, the restaurant chain, recently launched a line of so-called Panera Cares cafes that utilize a pay-what-you-can pricing model. Customers who are able to pay the suggested price or more underwrite meals for those that cannot pay the full price. Certain cafes also employ people from marginalized communities furthering the social impact of the restaurants. Goodwill Industries International, Inc. is yet another example of SE; its retail stores earn profits and also serve as employment training sites for people with barriers to employment.
In short, SE is an emerging field that promises to harness the energy and enthusiasm of commercial entrepreneurship combined with social work macro practice to address many long-standing social issues. Despite being a popular practice phenomenon, empirical research on SE is still quite nascent (Haugh, 2005); indeed, relatively few empirical articles on the subject have thus far appeared in academic journals, and even fewer in social work journals. In addition, SE has not yet been the focus of many presentations at professional conferences in social work, despite its increased popularity in other disciplines, such as public and business administration.
To address this gap in the social work literature and social work professional discourse, this symposium presents four papers (by social work scholars) concerning various facets of SE research in diverse contexts. Building upon the success of a similar symposium at the 2014 SSWR conference, this symposium intends to advance the research agenda and provide social work scholars with more inquiry in this area as well as to foster a dialogue regarding future SE research directions for the field of social work. The symposium participants believe that SE is an important concept for social work scholars to embrace, and they hope that this symposium will continue the recent momentum of intellectual gatherings on the topic within a social work context.
Berzin, S. C. (2012). Where is social work in the social entrepreneurship movement? Social Work, 57(2), 185-188.
Dees, J. G. (1998). The meaning of “social entrepreneurship.” Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. White paper retrieved from https://csistg.gsb.stanford.edu/sites/csi.gsb.stanford.edu/files/TheMeaningofsocialEntrepreneurship.pdf.
Germak, A. J., & Singh, K. K. (2010). Social entrepreneurship: Changing the way social workers do business. Administration in Social Work, 34(1), 79-95.
Haugh, H. (2005). A research agenda for social entrepreneurship. Social Enterprise Journal, 1(1), 1-12.