Addressing society's most pressing problems by combining the heroic and collective forms of social entrepreneurship

Sharon Zivkovic

EMES Conferences Selected Papers Series, ECSP-R11-27
Session: Specific models of social enterprise

This paper questions the ability of heroic models and collective models of social entrepreneurship to independently address society’s most pressing problems. Firstly, the paper demonstrates the limitations of the heroic model by comparing the characteristics of heroic social entrepreneurs and their problem solving approach to the characteristics of complex social policy problems. Then the paper identifies limitations of the collective functional social entrepreneurship model by referring to a South Australian case study.

The paper suggests while collective functional social entrepreneurship appears well suited to addressing complex social policy problems, findings from a research project investigating the impact of a South Australian innovation highlights three perceptual barriers that prevent collective functional social entrepreneurship from gaining traction in communities: the perception citizens do not understand the complexity of community issues, the perception governments do not listen to the ideas and views of citizens, and the perception governments cannot treat communities as complex adaptive systems.

After describing the South Australian innovation, and the research project, the paper describes a model developed during the research project which enables collective functional social entrepreneurship to embed in communities by addressing the identified barriers. The model focuses on nine intervention points which exist in communities and at the interface of communities and government systems, and suggests characteristics for interventions at these points.

Finally, the paper highlights how the model could provide the social entrepreneurship field with a unified approach for addressing society’s most pressing problems by assisting individual social entrepreneurs and teams of social entrepreneurs to develop innovations that enable collective functional social entrepreneurship.

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