Questions of Identity and Action among Social Entrepreneurs

Australian and New Zealand Third Sector Research Limited
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Third Sector Review, 2011, 17 (2), pp. 69 - 86
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One of the key questions of social entrepreneurship is how one would recognise a social entrepreneur. This paper reports on a small-scale study conducted in Sydney, Australia, which aimed to determine whether the sociological perspective is an effective approach to understanding the identity of social entrepreneurs, and whether - as a result of using this perspective - new questions for research might emerge. Participants included a combination of young and more established social entrepreneurs and two staff members from organizations which seek to develop the skills of social entrepreneurship. The study is significant because it is one of the few empirical studies which focuses on social entrepreneurs from a sociological perspective, noting their views on identity and motivations. The findings suggest the importance of mentors, the merits of the planned activity and the support of networks. New research questions emerged on the importance of social resources in social entrepreneurial activities and on the paradoxical relationship between the perceptions of being ordinary and being extraordinary.
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