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A Tale of Two Cultures: Charity, Problem Solving, and the Future of Social Entrepreneurship


  • J. Dees



Two cultures are at play in the field of social entrepreneurship: an age-old culture of charity, and a more contemporary culture of entrepreneurial problem solving. These cultures permeate activities from resource providers to front line operations. Both have roots in our psychological responses to the needs of others and are reinforced by social norms. They can work hand-in-hand or they can be at odds. Some of the icons of the social entrepreneurship movement have spoken harshly about charity, yet most of them rely to some degree, at least early in their development process, on resources that are given out of a charitable impulse. The success of social entrepreneurship requires an integration of values from each of these cultures, in which the satisfactions of giving are correlated with social benefits of rigorous problem solving. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • J. Dees, 2012. "A Tale of Two Cultures: Charity, Problem Solving, and the Future of Social Entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 111(3), pages 321-334, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:111:y:2012:i:3:p:321-334
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1412-5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee & Alice H. Amsden & Robert H. Bates & Jagdish Bhagwati & Angus Deaton & Nicholas Stern, 2007. "Making Aid Work," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262026155, January.
    2. Lara Aknin & Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton, 2012. "Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion: Evidence for a Positive Feedback Loop between Prosocial Spending and Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 347-355, April.
    3. Lara B. Aknin & Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh & Elizabeth W. Dunn & John F. Helliwell & Robert Biswas-Diener & Imelda Kemeza & Paul Nyende & Claire E. Ashton-James & Michael I. Norton, 2010. "Prosocial Spending and Well-Being: Cross-Cultural Evidence for a Psychological Universal," NBER Working Papers 16415, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Mario Morino, 2011. "Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity," Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, MIT Press, vol. 6(3), pages 167-177, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elena-Simina Lakatos & Bercea Oana Bianca & Laura Bacali, 2016. "The concept of innovation in social economy. A review and a research agenda," Review of Applied Socio-Economic Research, Pro Global Science Association, vol. 11(1), pages 32-50, June.
    2. repec:kap:jbuset:v:146:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10551-017-3652-x is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Edward N. Gamble & Haley A. Beer, 2017. "Spiritually Informed Not-for-profit Performance Measurement," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 141(3), pages 451-468, March.
    4. repec:kap:jbuset:v:143:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10551-014-2353-y is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Lopez-Cozar, C. & Priede, T. & Rodríguez-Lopez, A., 2015. "Evaluating The Legal Environment For Social Entrepreneurship In America And Europe," Revista Galega de Economía, University of Santiago de Compostela. Faculty of Economics and Business., vol. 24(1), pages 101-110.


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