21 February 2012

Developing social entrepreneurship theory

<em></em>Dr Heather Douglas, RMIT, Dr Alex Nicholls, Oxford University, Dr Chris Mason, Swinburne University, and Professor Brian Corbitt, RMIT.

Dr Heather Douglas, RMIT, Dr Alex Nicholls, Oxford University, Dr Chris Mason, Swinburne University, and Professor Brian Corbitt, RMIT.

Fifteen leading Australasian scholars developed new understandings of social entrepreneurship at a symposium last week.

The two-day event was organised by Dr Heather Douglas from the School of Management at RMIT University.

Dr Douglas has helped establish several Australian social enterprise initiatives.

“This symposium is an opportunity for Australasian academics to contribute to the international debate on this dynamic and important field,” she said.

Social entrepreneurship aims to achieve a social goal for disadvantaged people such as those living in chronic poverty or those with complex or intractable difficulties.

It uses business activities to support the social goals of the enterprise, rather than creating profit for business owners.

Although relatively new in academia, social entrepreneurship is a well established practice in this region.

Dr Alex Nicholls from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University attended the symposium.

Dr Nicholls is a leading social entrepreneurship scholar acknowledged as presenting powerful new ideas and thought changing papers.

Symposium participants explored macro viewpoints; the social enterprise policy discourse; how design establishes value for neighbourhoods; links between social innovation and entrepreneurship; issues surrounding starting new social enterprises; and a critique of social enterprise scaling as a way to broaden impact.

An Australasian social entrepreneurship research collective has emerged from this symposium.

An edited book of theoretical papers will be published later this year, and plans for a second symposium in 2013 are already underway.

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