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Exploring social entrepreneurial boundary spanning for compassion-triggered opportunities

Eliada Wosu Griffin-EL (Management Department, Robert Morris University, Moon Township, Pennsylvania, USA)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 17 June 2021

Issue publication date: 9 August 2021




The purpose of this paper is to address the research question: How does the social entrepreneur’s compassion inform how they engage with their environment to mobilize resources for social entrepreneurial action?


The study features a comparative case study analysis of seven high-profile social entrepreneurs within Cape Town, South Africa. Data via in-depth interviews, site visits and archival information and follow-up conversations were collected and then analyzed via thematic coding of qualitative analysis.


The findings suggest that compassion is an antecedent for the social entrepreneurial boundary spanning shaped by their orientation toward concern for others’ well-being. Propositions presented offer the groundwork for an emergent theoretical framework of social entrepreneurial boundary spanning.


The study builds upon the emerging compassion research within social entrepreneurship, extending the conceptualization of compassion to be shapers of the social structure – not just the individual or the organization – in an emerging market context.



The author would like to thank the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business Conference on the Business of Social Innovation. The author was a Senior Lecturer of Social Entrepreneurship at the institution when the initial draft of this paper was written.


Griffin-EL, E.W. (2021), "Exploring social entrepreneurial boundary spanning for compassion-triggered opportunities", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 398-426.



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