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Business models for people, planet (& profits): exploring the phenomena of social business, a market-based approach to social value creation


  • Fiona Wilson


  • James Post



This article explores the hybrid phenomenon of social business, that is, both a form of organization and a practice that deliberately harnesses market dynamics to address deeply rooted social issues through the design and implementation of a core product or service. This new form of hybrid venture melds the social purpose traditionally associated with non-profit organizations with the economic purpose and market-based methods traditionally associated with for-profit firms. This exploratory research inductively explores the process by which social businesses are designed. The result suggests that clear intentionality around social purpose drives the design of these ventures and their associated missions and business models such that they can creatively synthesize competing paradigms (economic and social purpose) within one venture. The tight coupling of mission, method, and operationalization allows for the multi-stakeholder promise of the business model to be fulfilled. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Fiona Wilson & James Post, 2013. "Business models for people, planet (& profits): exploring the phenomena of social business, a market-based approach to social value creation," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 715-737, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:sbusec:v:40:y:2013:i:3:p:715-737
    DOI: 10.1007/s11187-011-9401-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ross Williams, 2013. "Introduction," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 46(4), pages 460-461, December.
    2. Peredo, Ana María & McLean, Murdith, 2006. "Social entrepreneurship: A critical review of the concept," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 56-65, February.
    3. Mair, Johanna & Martí, Ignasi, 2006. "Social entrepreneurship research: A source of explanation, prediction, and delight," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 36-44, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chris Mason & Bob Doherty, 2016. "A Fair Trade-off? Paradoxes in the Governance of Fair-trade Social Enterprises," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 136(3), pages 451-469, July.
    2. repec:eee:tefoso:v:127:y:2018:i:c:p:154-165 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Simon Cornée & Marc Jegers & Ariane Szafarz, 2018. "A Theory of Social Finance," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 2018-02, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
    4. Najmaei Arash, 2016. "How Do Entrepreneurs Develop Business Models in Small High-Tech Ventures? An Exploratory Model from Australian IT Firms," Entrepreneurship Research Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 6(3), pages 297-343, July.
    5. Jean-Laurent Viviani & Carole Maurel, 2018. "Performance of impact investing: A value creation approach," Post-Print halshs-01717992, HAL.
    6. Saskia CRUCKE & Nathalie MORAY & Nathalie VALLET, 2015. "Some Internal representation and Factional Faultlines as Antecedents for Board Performance in Social Enterprises," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 86(2), pages 385-400, June.
    7. Saskia Crucke & Adelien Decramer, 2016. "The Development of a Measurement Instrument for the Organizational Performance of Social Enterprises," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(2), pages 1-30, February.
    8. Goran Calic & Elaine Mosakowski, 2016. "Kicking Off Social Entrepreneurship: How A Sustainability Orientation Influences Crowdfunding Success," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(5), pages 738-767, July.
    9. Stefano Cosma & Alessandro G. Grasso & Francesco Pagliacci & Alessia Pedrazzoli, 2018. "Is Equity Crowdfunding a Good Tool for Social Enterprises?," Centro Studi di Banca e Finanza (CEFIN) (Center for Studies in Banking and Finance) 18022, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi".
    10. Gupta, Samir & Maltz, Elliot, 2015. "Interdependency, dynamism, and variety (IDV) network modeling to explain knowledge diffusion at the fuzzy front-end of innovation," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(11), pages 2434-2442.
    11. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:2:p:161:d:63634 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:spr:jglont:v:8:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1186_s40497-018-0087-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:9:p:1620-:d:111719 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:eee:jbvent:v:33:y:2018:i:2:p:117-129 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. repec:eee:techno:v:66-67:y:2017:i::p:3-13 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Social entrepreneurship; Social enterprise; Social purpose business venture; Social business; Business models; M10; M13; M14;

    JEL classification:

    • M10 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - General
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility


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