"Sustainable Entrepreneurship addresses many current global challenges such as climate change, global imbalances, population growth and aging. This new and sustainable way of doing business keeps inspiring me with its creativity and potential to change entire systems" (Nelly Rahimy, Founder of KurkuMama, University of Passau).
Social entrepreneurship (SE) is a key driver of social change. Entrepreneurs that are active in the field of SE are motivated by the desire to create social value by addressing social issues such as for example inequality, discrimination, poverty, unemployment, or the resolution of certain society problems (i.e., climate change, homelessness). Therefore, social entrepreneurship “encompasses the activities and processes undertaken to discover, define, and exploit opportunities in order to enhance social wealth by creating new ventures or managing existing organizations in an innovative manner” (Zahra et al. 2009: 522). However, it is important to note, that there is no clear and all-encompassing definition of social entrepreneurship. The definition and understanding of what make up a social enterprise varies from context to context and from country to country. In addition, SE is often closely linked to sustainable entrepreneurship. Exploring sustainable and SE requires to study in greater detail the motivations, the values, skills and capabilities of social entrepreneurs and their firms and business models and their ways to manage their businesses (Gupta et al., 2020).
Unlike commercial entrepreneurial businesses, SE firms primarily focus on social objectives. However, this focus on social objectives does not mean that social entrepreneurs do and cannot follow economic objectives. In fact, social entrepreneurs often try to balance commercial as well as social objectives to various degrees and which is often a very challenging task.
In our research at the Chair of International Management and Social Entrepreneurship we address several challenges that social and sustainable entrepreneurs have to deal with. For example, each summer semester we offer the bachelor seminar "Sustainable Entrepreneurship" (Stud.IP: 11017C1). The seminar focuses on creating solutions to social and sustainable challenges. Students deepen their knowledge in business modelling, prototyping, and business planning. Our overall aim of this course is to raise awareness for entrepreneurial action at an early stage of studying. To foster the practice-oriented character of this course, we invite experts from the field and entrepreneurs. For further information, please contact Nelly Rahimy, Kevin Koziol or Maja Schmitz. If we have aroused your interest, please, take a look at accomplished student projects.
In another project, we examine the business models, governance and ownership structure of SE firms and examine how these structural components interrelate with the challenge of a post-growth economy. The idea is that economic growth is only beneficial if it improves people's lives. It should not be an end in itself. Therefore, we study how SE ventures in their quest to benefit the society can promote the idea of less consumption, less resource usage, and less growth. For further information please contact Jannes Kormann.
“I think one of the biggest management problems is going to be to understand how to manage a successful non-growing company -- and how to get out of the frame of mind that success is measured only by growth.” Jay Forrester, MIT Sloan School of Management professor emeritus in Hopkins (2009)
In a third project, we take a broader perspective and investigate how large multinational firms can contribute to the enactment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which goals they prefer over the others depending on aspects such social network embeddedness and the composition of the top management team. For further information please contact Suleika Bort.
Gupta, P., Chauhan, S., Paul, J., & Jaiswal, M. P. (2020). Social entrepreneurship research: A review and future research agenda. Journal of Business Research, 113, 209-229.
Hopkins, M. S. (2009). The loop you can't get out of. MIT Sloan Management Review, 50(2), 9.
Zahra, S. A., Gedajlovic, E., Neubaum, D. O., & Shulman, J. M. (2009). A typology of social entrepreneurs: Motives, search processes and ethical challenges. Journal of business venturing, 24(5), 519-532.