Entrepreneurial social responsibility: scoping the territory

Blundel, Richard K.; Spence, Laura J. and Zerbinati, Stefania (2010). Entrepreneurial social responsibility: scoping the territory. In: Spence, Laura and Painter-Morland, Mollie eds. Ethics in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises: a global commentary. Dordrecht, NL: Springer, pp. 123–145.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-9331-8_8

URL: http://www.springer.com/business+%26+management/en...


In this chapter scope the relationship between entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Both entrepreneurship and CSR have attracted increased interest in the early 21st century and been positioned as offering solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges. Previous attempts to determine causal influence between the two concepts have been inconclusive. We explicate the difficult to define concepts of entrepreneurship and CSR by focusing on entrepreneurial process and positive social change in particular. We identify three distinct approaches to this relationship: ‘mainstream’, ‘counter-cultural / critical’ and ‘reformist’ and locate our contribution in relation to these streams of ideas. Building on the CSR definition of Aguilera et al. (2007), we define Entrepreneurial Social Responsibility (‘ESR’) as the dynamic consideration of, and response to, issues beyond the narrow economic, technical and legal requirements of the firm to accomplish social and environmental benefits along with traditional economic gains. We argue that the territory of ESR can best be explored through the use of a multi-level analysis approach to researching the entrepreneurial process. ESR is important both conceptually and in policy terms and is an advancement because it occupies an intellectual space neither fully revealed nor addressed in existing CSR or entrepreneurship research. In moving towards a response to the research question: In what circumstances is positive social contribution an outcome of the entrepreneurial process?, we present a multi-level conceptual model of ESR. We enhance the CSR field by integrating a dynamic approach into the concept, and enhance the entrepreneurship field by opening up to more systematic study the social and environmental qualities of a social phenomenon that is often interpreted within an exclusively economic and instrumental frame of reference.

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