Entrepreneurial dynamics and social responsibility: mapping an expanded intellectual territory

Blundel, Richard and Spence, Laura J. (2009). Entrepreneurial dynamics and social responsibility: mapping an expanded intellectual territory. In: Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 32nd International Conference: Social, Environmental and Ethical Enterprise Track, 3-6 Nov 2009, Liverpool, UK.

URL: http://www.isbe.org.uk


Objectives: (1) To provide a constructive critique of the interface between the entrepreneurial growth dynamics research and social responsibility literatures; (2) to explore opportunities for making new connections between these literatures in order to address substantive ‘gaps’ in research and policy-making ; (3) to map the broader intellectual territory implied by this critique; (4) to outline a tentative research agenda.
Prior work: The paper draws on two main strands of research: entrepreneurial growth dynamics and (corporate) social responsibility. While much has been achieved in the social responsibility literature with regards to established practices, we argue that insufficient attention has been paid to the more ‘entrepreneurial’ dimensions. At the same time, the current wave of enthusiasm for new models of socially-responsible enterprise has opened up a series of new research questions, including: (i) how are these organisational forms likely to grow and develop over the longer-term, at an intra-organisational level, and in terms of emerging inter-organisational relationships?; (iii) how will other actors respond to these developments?; (ii) what are the implications of the resulting dynamics for social, environmental and economic sustainability?
Approach: The paper is based around a critical review of the relevant literatures, focusing on the role of entrepreneurial opportunity and capabilities in shaping entrepreneurial growth dynamics. The discussion addresses current methodological debates and considers how social responsibility can be integrated into the analysis. In doing so, it builds on a research tradition that has promoted historically-informed multi-level and co-evolutionary analysis and argues that such techniques are required in order to gain a better understanding of these phenomena.
Results: We outline a research agenda, illustrated with a number of questions of particular relevance to researchers, policy-makers and practitioners
Implications: The paper identifies a number of issues for researchers and policy-makers and practitioner audiences. It calls for a broadening of the intellectual territory around socially-responsible enterprise. Process-based and multi-level analysis of growth dynamics extends its temporal and organisational boundaries to encompass longer-term interactions and a wider range of actors.
Value: The paper is designed to facilitate and to encourage more constructive interaction between research communities concerned with: social responsibility, social enterprise and process-based approaches to entrepreneurship. It advances understanding by mapping an intellectual space that is neither fully revealed in, nor adequately addressed by, existing bodies of knowledge.

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