Martin and Osberg in Stanford Social Innovation Review offer an interesting definition of "social entrepreneurship":
We define social entrepreneurship as having the following three components: (1) identifying a stable but inherently unjust equilibrium that causes the exclusion, marginalization, or suffering of a segment of humanity that lacks the financial means or political clout to achieve any transformative benefit on its own; (2) identifying an opportunity in this unjust equilibrium, developing a social value proposition, and bringing to bear inspiration, creativity, direct action, courage, and fortitude, thereby challenging the stable state’s hegemony; and (3) forging a new, stable equilibrium that releases trapped potential or alleviates the suffering of the targeted group, and through imitation and the creation of a stable ecosystem around the new equilibrium ensuring a better future for the targeted group and even society at large.
Query: Are there socially conservative "social entrepreneurs," and if so, does the definition above exclude them? "Unjust equilibrium," "challenging the stable state's hegemony," "the targetted group," all sound like Rawlsian liberalism to me. Surely, though a social entrprenenur might take free markets, or unbridled capitalism - whatever the final dispersion of wealth - to be the Summum Bonum, the highest good conceivable by the modern day Dunce.
I would say a "social entrepreneur" is a dead metaphor. We will not revive our society until our best and brightest write better. The prose above is that of two good souls who have read too much MBA stuff and too little literature, philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, myth, folklore, or even good joke books. The provenance of the prose is B-School. Wisdom literature it is not.
Assignment: Read Carlyle's "Heroes and Hero Worship," then rewrite Osberg and Martin in Carlyle's vein. See what a difference style makes. Here is the opening of the Carlyle:
We have undertaken to discourse here for a little on Great Men, their manner of appearance in our world's business, how they have shaped themselves in the world's history, what ideas men formed of them, what work they did;--on Heroes, namely, and on their reception and performance; what I call Hero-worship and the Heroic in human affairs.
How can we, as capitalism consumes itself, still draw our hero myths - those of the Romantic Entrepreneur, the Napoleon of Creative Destruction, the Savior - from business? Entrepreneurs are fine. But they are not the only crazy people worth fawning upon.
How about me?