Social entrepreneurship in South Africa: Delineating the construct with associated skills

Boris Urban (Faculty of Management, Department of Entrepreneurship, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Publication date: 1 August 2008



Various theoretical issues and debates were investigated in order to measure quantitatively social entrepreneurship (SE) activity (SEA), together with the different skills associated with successful SE in South Africa.


This was primarily an exploratory study, using factor analysis and inferential statistical testing, based on a surveyed sample of 287 respondents, undertaken to measure SEA and concomitant SE skills. Empirical findings were interrogated in the context of existing research and comparisons with established SEA rates were made.


The findings were modest, particularly about the number of active and future social entrepreneurs. Moreover the validity and reliability of the instrument used to measure skills was established, offering insights into SEA and the types of skills associated with SE.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited by being in the early stage of theoretical development on the SE construct. The interpretation of the empirical findings, understanding SE and the associated skills, may serve as catalyst for this emerging and important activity in SA.


SEA and skills were empirically measured for the first time. This initial South African investigation advances the topic to where it has much relevance.



Urban, B. (2008), "Social entrepreneurship in South Africa: Delineating the construct with associated skills", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 14 No. 5, pp. 346-364.

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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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