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Schumpeterian social entrepreneur

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Rahdari, A. H., Sepasi, S., & Moradi, M. A. (2016). Achieving sustainability through schumpeterian social entrepreneurship: the role of social enterprises. Journal of Cleaner Production, 137, 347-360.


Schumpeter, social


About the Recipe

How Social Entrepreneurship Can Save the World



Here is a thought leadership article summarizing the key findings and insights from the research paper, in the style of The Atlantic:


As humanity grapples with daunting global challenges, from poverty and hunger to climate change and inequality, a growing chorus of voices is pointing to social entrepreneurship as a powerful catalyst for sustainable development. A recent study makes the compelling case that by harnessing innovation and unleashing entrepreneurial creativity for social good, we can transform not just businesses but the entire economy into an engine of positive change.

The research by Amir Rahdari, Sahar Sepasi and Mohammad Moradi draws on the seminal thinking of economist Joseph Schumpeter, who envisioned entrepreneurs as the true drivers of economic development and social progress. Rahdari and colleagues lay out a roadmap for how this Schumpeterian spirit can be married with an unwavering commitment to social and environmental responsibility.

Central to their framework is the concept of the social enterprise - a hybrid entity pursuing both profits and purpose, measuring success not just by financial returns but by impact on people and the planet. While social entrepreneurship is often seen as the domain of plucky startups and grassroots nonprofits, the authors argue it represents a paradigm every business should embrace.

Through a novel "SE to Sustainability Canvas," they illustrate how any company, large or small, can integrate social entrepreneurship into its DNA through strategies like nurturing intrapreneurship, scaling up CSR initiatives, and baking sustainability into the core business model. The aim is to cultivate what's dubbed "corporate social entrepreneurship," empowering employees to innovate for the greater good while still fulfilling their day jobs.

The implications are profound. Applied broadly, social entrepreneurship has the potential to align the entire business community behind the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the authors contend. For sustainability to take root, it can't remain a siloed CSR department or marketing tactic - it must become an animating purpose interwoven through every aspect of operations and enshrined in the mission.

Of course, an economy-wide embrace of social enterprise remains more lofty ambition than present reality today. The researchers acknowledge significant barriers, from a dearth of enabling policy environments to a mindset that often privileges short-term profits over long-term value creation. Moreover, many businesses view social responsibility as a peripheral "nice to have" rather than an existential necessity.

But through frameworks like their canvas, the authors offer a pragmatic roadmap for any organization to begin the journey. By mapping specific practices and maturity levels, they illuminate how firms can progress from basic acceptance of sustainability to deep transformation of their business models. And through a vast synthesis of concepts and case studies, they reveal how pioneers are already redefining what it means to be a responsible corporation.

Ultimately, the study is a clarion call for reimagining the basic contract between business and society. In an era of skyrocketing public expectations and plummeting trust in institutions, companies that authentically live their values and contribute to collective flourishing will reap the rewards. Social entrepreneurship, the authors argue, provides the script to make that leap.

For those who still doubt, consider the alternative: sticking with an increasingly untenable status quo, where short-term profits accrue to the few while long-term costs are borne by the many. If we hope to make serious headway on the defining challenges of our time, marrying the dynamism of capitalism with the conscience of sustainability is no longer optional. Social entrepreneurship lights the way forward - the task now is to follow it.

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