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Social entrepreneurship: a different model?

Roger Spear (Co‐ops Research Unit, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 1 May 2006




This paper is concerned with developing a framework which allows both economic and social entrepreneurship to be analysed.


The framework is developed to accommodate the often neglected collective or pluralistic dimension of entrepreneurship. It draws on the behavioural approach to adopt a straightforward definition of social entrepreneurship – focusing on the creation of a social enterprise (co‐operative, mutual or voluntary organisation). The paper is exploratory, developing a conceptual framework, based on some case studies of social enterprises in a range of business sectors, in the UK.


The findings from this small scale study provide interesting models of entrepreneurship that contrast with conventional models for SMEs.

Research limitations/implications

The research has implications for research on conventional entrepreneurship, as well as creating a basis for developing the new field of social entrepreneurship.

Practical implications

The paper provides policy implications for more effective support of social entrepreneurship.


The paper establishes the importance of some distinctive factors in social entrepreneurship for policy and further research.



Spear, R. (2006), "Social entrepreneurship: a different model?", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 33 No. 5/6, pp. 399-410.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited