The School for Social Entrepreneurs discusses the definition of Social Entrepreneur provided by Martin and Osberg in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and discussed in an earlier Gifthub post. If a Social Entrepreneur makes the world better, or more just, for a targeted group, through disruptive change, leading to a new equilibrium, was Rousseau a Social Entrepreneur? Robespierre? Tom Paine? George Washington? Harriett Beecher Stowe? General Sherman? Lenin? How about Dante? Gallileo? Machiavelli? Confucius? Can a great social entrepreneur, like a great writer, go unheralded, and die forgotten, without achieving a real world effect? Or, is success part of the definition? So that we call a failed social entrepreneur, a "loser" and leave it at that? I would think that social entrepreneurship to be a useful concept would need to have better boundaries, and clearer contrasting terms, not just be a fuzzy honorific, or puffery. I would think at the very least a social entrepreneur by definition must be under the impression or delusion that markets are the best avenue to a better world. A social entrepreneur is one who looks to business as a high calling, or sees business methods as the preferred means to high and noble ends. That definition would then set social entrepreneurs apart from heroic figures in the arts, sciences, war craft, diplomacy, law, religion, philosophy, and other walks of life that may in fact have far greater effect than entrepreneurs per se can or should.
When did shopkeers and entrepreneurial upstarts first become moral heroes? How about Moll Flanders? Or, Macheath? Today, we find it commonplace to look up to entrepreneurs in all their cultural narrowness, presumption, and vulgarity. There was a time when to admit you consorted with an entrepreneur (then called a "Projector" or a "Virtuoso"; see the Novak tome linked here) brought dishonor on a person of good breeding and good taste. An entrepreneur would not have been admitted to any drawing room in the time of good Queen Anne. Now, it is the cultured people, the carriers on of intellectual, artistic, ethical, and spiritual traditions, who are in the Dumpster, as the bumptious MBAs laud one another as world historical figures, seers, world changers. How sad if it be so. They sure don't write like they are in touch with the World Spirit. For the Social Entrepreneurs among us, here is a link to the word bumptious, so you won't have to look it up. The definition could have your picture on it.