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Aux origines de l'entrepreneuriat social. Les affaires selon Jean-Baptiste André Godin (1817-1888)


  • Sophie Boutillier


Since the beginning of the 1990?s, the social entrepreneur has become a fundamental actor within capitalism. But, what is a social entrepreneur, one must ask? The question is debated and defies consensus. Is an entrepreneur social because he founds a nonprofit enterprise? If so, then how can he live in the free market economy? Alternately, is the entrepreneur social because he finances social ventures from profits? To illustrate this conundrum, consider 19th century French entrepreneur Jean-Baptiste Andr? Godin (1817-1888) who was both a technological and a social innovator. He invented a new system of heating and also made a fortune creating a ?familist?re? according to the theory of Charles Fourier. The workers (who chose to do so) lived in the familist?re, enjoying a large range of welfare activities (care, social insurance, etc). Their children were also educated by the enterprise. The economic strategy?of Godin was rational because his enterprise was more profitable than others. Indeed, for many decades the familist?re of Godin was the market leader. So, then, we must also consider a follow-on question: Is the social entrepreneur paternalistic? JEL codes: P12, 013, N83

Suggested Citation

  • Sophie Boutillier, 2009. "Aux origines de l'entrepreneuriat social. Les affaires selon Jean-Baptiste André Godin (1817-1888)," Innovations, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(2), pages 115-134.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:inndbu:inno_030_0115

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    Cited by:

    1. Sophie Boutillier & Patrick Matagne, 2012. "Economic Theories, Environmental Issues and History of Thought," Chapters, in: Blandine Laperche & Nadine Levratto & Dimitri Uzunidis (ed.), Crisis, Innovation and Sustainable Development, chapter 6, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Laurent Fraisse & Laurent Gardin & Jean-Louis Laville & Francesca Petrella & Nadine Richez-Battesti, 2016. "Social enterprise in France : at the crossroads of the social economy, solidarity economy and social entrepreneurship ?," Post-Print halshs-01449222, HAL.

    More about this item


    entrepreneur; innovation; social economy;

    JEL classification:

    • P12 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Capitalist Enterprises
    • N83 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - Europe: Pre-1913


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