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Social enterprise and social entrepreneurship: where have we reached? A summary of issues and discussion points

John L. Thompson (The Business School, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 6 June 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss social enterprises, social entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurs. The paper draws on published work to flag key issues and discussion points that affect the clarity of the understanding. It aims to provide some greater insight and help both scholars and practitioners in their respective quests for understanding and improvement. The paper could further help people clarify what needs to be covered on courses and degrees in this subject area.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on the work of others and to this adds personal conclusions from both direct experience and observation. It attempts to deal with complex issues and tensions in a straightforward style and thus draw attention to key debates.

Findings

The central argument is that if we see social enterprises, social entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurs bound together, operating with a common purpose and approach and pursuing the same ends, then we misunderstand this critically important sector. They are clearly linked but there are important distinctions.

Research limitations/implications

This is a conceptual discussion paper. It is not directly a research paper and it is not written to either present the findings of a specific project or to inform a future research agenda. It could well‐trigger ideas for researchers, however.

Originality/value

The core material for this paper is not original but the presentation, synthesis and arguments offer a distinctive treatment. They should help clarify some of the debates and issues that hamper our ability to clearly understand the world of social enterprises.

Keywords

Citation

Thompson, J.L. (2008), "Social enterprise and social entrepreneurship: where have we reached? A summary of issues and discussion points", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 149-161. https://doi.org/10.1108/17508610810902039

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited