Social entrepreneurship in co-operatives

Spear, Roger (2009). Social entrepreneurship in co-operatives. In: McPherson, Ian and McLaughlin-Jenkins, Erin eds. Integrating Diversities with a Complex Heritage: Essays in the Field of Co-operative Studies. Victoria, Canada: New Rochdale Press.



Studies of business entrepreneurship tend to focus on the individual, and the economic aspects of starting a new enterprise and subsequent business development. This paper is concerned with developing a framework which allows both economic and social dimensions of entrepreneurship to be analysed. It reveals a differentiation between the conventional popular model of the individual entrepreneur creating their own enterprise from initiatives involving more than one person, and from initiatives which involve a more formal, institutional focus of entrepreneurial activity. This type of entrepreneurial activity is most common where some level of local development is prominent, and infrastructure is established to allow this development activity to take place. The framework is developed to accomodate the often neglected collective or pluralistic dimension of entrepreneurship. The paper draws on the behavioral approach (Gartner, 1989) to adopt a straightforward definition of social entrepreneurship – the creation of a social enterprise (co-op, mutual or voluntary organisation); but the social dimension of entrepreneurship is examined within the research: by exploring the extent to which social or community goals played a part in its formation and subsequent operation.

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