IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Social entrepreneurship – a survey of current research


  • Braunerhjelm, Pontus

    () (Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum)

  • Stuart Hamilton, Ulrika

    (Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum)


The phenomenon of social entrepreneurship, sometimes denoted societal entrepreneurship, receives increased attention and popularity by policy makers, opinion leaders, as well as by researchers. The concept lacks a rigorous definition and in this survey we list a number of alternative definitions and classifications made in recent research. These are based on comparisons between social entrepreneurship and other forms of organization, the core elements supposed to accrue to social entrepreneurship and on identification of environmental factors in which social entrepreneurs operate. In addition, despite the strong recent increase in research interest comprising several schools of thought, there is a lack of reliable data. One of the few comprehensive attempts to collect comparable data is the 2009 GEM study, measuring levels of social entrepreneurship activity in 45 countries. In this working paper we contribute an intrapolated figure for Sweden using cubic splines, which shows that Sweden ranks in the middle of the European countries. At the political decision level both the European Union and individual member states begin to adopt or suggest special legal framework conditions, including beneficial treatment, for so called social enterprises. The paper concludes that there are a limited number of studies using quantitative methods, a lack of rigorous hypothesis testing, little variety in research design, a need for an unambiguous definition that can serve as a foundation for future research and a thorough analysis of the contributions to society that can be attributed social entrepreneurship.

Suggested Citation

  • Braunerhjelm, Pontus & Stuart Hamilton, Ulrika, 2012. "Social entrepreneurship – a survey of current research," Working Papers 2012:9, Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:entfor:2012_009

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    entrepreneurship; social;

    JEL classification:

    • A00 - General Economics and Teaching - - General - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:entfor:2012_009. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mikael Jorstig). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.