Topic 12: Social entrepreneurship and co-operative enterprise


This topic provides an overview of the concepts of social entrepreneurship and innovation. It highlights the fact that social entrepreneurs use the same skills and behaviours of traditional entrepreneurs but for a social rather than an economic purpose.

The social entrepreneur can be found in a wide range of environments that can include non-profit and voluntary organisations through to for-profit organisations.  Social entrepreneurship seeks to build a social value proposition that draws together people and capital to exploit opportunities for social capital building.

Social entrepreneurship and innovation are new and emerging concepts that remain poorly defined. However, since the 1990s there has been a growing recognition of the importance of the social economy and the social enterprise. The ‘Third Way’ was a reaction to the ‘economic rationalism’ that became prominent in the 1980s.

An important form of social enterprise is the co-operative. This type of business model has been in operation for centuries and the principles of the Rochdale Society founded in 1844 remain the basis for the global co-operative enterprise movement that encompasses some of the largest business organisations in the world.

Co-operatives offer economic and social benefits to their members and can be found in a wide range of industries. They play an important role in regional and community development. However, co-operatives suffer from some generic problems associated with their collective ownership rights and recent trends have seen the formation of a New Generation Co-operative business model designed to alleviate some of these problems.

The theory of community-based enterprise (CBE) suggests that where a community is suffering economic or social stress, but has a tradition of collective problem solving, sufficient social capital willing to become involved and provide the necessary critical mass, a CBE can form. It will be based on available community skills, have a range of goals and succeed if there is sufficient community participation.

Textbooks and readings


Mazzarol, T., and Reboud, S. (2017) Entrepreneurship and Innovation 3rd edn, Melbourne, Tilde University Press, ISBN: 978-0-7346-1225-0. Chapter 13.


Mazzarol, T., and Reboud, S. (2017) Entrepreneurship and Innovation Workbook, Melbourne, Tilde University Press, ISBN 978-0--7346-1227-4.


Mazzarol, T. (2011) Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Readings and Cases 2nd Edition, Tilde University Press, Melbourne, chapter 12.

Recommended readings:

Austin, J., Stevenson, H., and Wei-Skillem, J. (2006), “Social and Commercial Entrepreneurship: Same, Different or Both?” Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 31(1): 1-22.

Birch, K. and Whittam, G. (2008), “The Third Sector and the Regional Development of Social Capital”, Regional Studies 42(3): 437-450.

Cook, M. L., and Iliopoulos, C. (1999). "Beginning to Inform the Theory of the Cooperative Firm: Emergence of the New Generation Cooperative." Finnish Journal of Business Economics 4(99): 525-535.

Dees, J. G. (1998) “Enterprising Nonprofits”, Harvard Business Review, 76(1): 55-66.

Dees, J. G. and Elias, J. (1998) “The Challenge of Combining Social and Commercial Enterprise”, Business Ethics Quarterly, 8(1): 165-179.

Katz, J. P., and Boland, M.A. (2002). "One for All and All for One? A New Generation of Co-operatives Emerges." Long Range Planning 35(1): 73-89.

Lasprogata, G. and Cotten,M. (2003), “Contemplating Enterprise: The Business and Legal Challenges of Social Entrepreneurship”, American Business Law Journal, 41(1): 67-113.

Mair, J. and Marti, I. (2006). "Social Entrepreneurship Research: A source of explanation, prediction and delight." Journal of World Business 41(1): 36-44.

Martin, R. and Osberg, S. (2007), “Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definitions”, Social Innovation Review, 5(2): 28-39.

Neck, H., Brush C. and Allen, E. (2009), “The Landscape of Social Entrepreneurship”, Business Horizons, 52(1): 13-19.

Peredo, A. M. and Chrisman, J. J. (2006). "Toward a Theory of Community-Based Enterprise." Academy of Management Review 31(2): 309-328.

Peredo, A. M. and McLean, M. (2006), “Social Entrepreneurship: A Critical Review of the Concept”, Journal of World Business 41(1): 56-65.

Phills, J., Deiglmeier, K. and Miller, D. (2008), “Rediscovering Social Innovation”, Social Innovation Review 6(4): 1-11.

Porter, M. E., and Kramer, M. R. (2011). "Creating Shared Value." Harvard Business Review 89(1/2): 62-77.

Thompson, J. L. (2002), “The World of the Social Entrepreneur”, International Journal of Public Sector Management 15(4/5): 412-31

Weerawardena, J. and G. Mort (2006), “Investigating Social Entrepreneurship: A Multidimensional Model”, Journal of World Business 41(1): 21-35.

Lecture notes

Topic 12: Social entrepreneurship and co-operative enterprise.