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IFKAD 2017 Special Tracks
Encouraging social entrepreneurship in a changing world
The track calls for original, inspiring and research-grounded papers about the way social aims may be pursued by the means of entrepreneurship that means about the way both new and existing knowledge may be managed to solve societal problems, supporting social changes and improvements at the same time.
Accordingly, the proposed track aims to collect both theoretical and empirical contributions examining processes, methods and tools employed by both profit and non-profit organizations in the development of their own "social oriented" activities. Examining the linkage between knowledge and entrepreneurship is not new in the literature.
A wide body of cross-national contributions recognizes the existing affinity between individual's ability to identify business opportunities and to act on them by starting a new venture (Audretsch and Keilbach, 2005; Sarasvathy et al., 2003; Stevenson and Jarillo, 1990; Venkataraman, 1997). In accordance, entrepreneurship was usually considered as the process by which individuals pursue entrepreneurial opportunities without regard to the resources they currently control (Stevenson and Jarillo, 1990), by: 1) catching opportunities and 2) maximizing the value creation through the exploitation of the existing resources, as well as through the development of new ones. Within the field of the mentioned perspective, Sarasvathy et al. (2003, p. 142) provide for a definition of "entrepreneurial opportunity" as "a set of beliefs and actions that enable the creation of future goods and services in the absence of current markets for them".
But what about the individuals' ability to recognize and use opportunities for business or social purposes?
Much of the more contemporary thinking about entrepreneurship has focused on the differences among the individuals with reference to the cognitive process by which they reach the decision to start a new firm (Shaver, 2003; Shane and Eckhardt, 2003, Krueger; 2003; McClelland, 1965): according to their perspective variations across peoples' attributes – as self-efficacy (the individual's sense of competence), collective efficacy, social norms, and previous personal experience (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000) – are responsible for the establishment of a different cognitive process (that means different learning processes and knowledge models acquisition) that leads people to become an entrepreneur.
Rather than examining individual variations, Audretsch and Keilbach (2005) analyzed how the cognitive process, inducing the entrepreneurial decision, is affected by the context, particularly comparing high knowledge contexts with impoverished knowledge, finding that high knowledge contexts generate more entrepreneurial opportunities, where the entrepreneur serves as a conduit for knowledge spillovers. By contrast, impoverished knowledge contexts were found to generate fewer entrepreneurial opportunities.
According to the mentioned perspectives, therefore, knowledge, be it new or existing one – may be considered an important source, not only for the arising of business entrepreneurship, but also for social entrepreneurship.
In spite of the underlined contributions, nevertheless, very little is already known about the way knowledge may be addressed to get social purposes, as well as about the reasons why entrepreneurs pursue social aims, rather than business ones. This is particularly true with reference to the role played by culture and institutional constrains.
As supported by the wide literature about the topic, both firms' propensity to devote and to adopt social responsible practices is affected by culture (Parjanen, 2012; Eisenberg, 1999, Taylor and Wilson, 2012; Kaasa and Vadi, 2010; Arslan, 2000; Husted, 2000, 2001) mainly because of the relevance that values and beliefs have in shaping the hierarchy of firms' goals. Similarly, since very few firms are able to develop internally a wide range of knowledge, social entrepreneurial initiative are likely to develop easier when actors (at both firm and institutional level) relate one to each other, producing new patterns of learning (Canestrino and Magliocca, 2016). But, in doing this, individuals and organizations are strongly influenced and shaped by institutions; that means they are "embedded" in an institutional environment or set of rules, which include the legal system, norms, and standards (Freeman, 1987; Lundvall, 1992; Edquist, 1997). In the path of the mentioned perspective, therefore, new and existing research topic belong to the exploration of the existing linkage between culture, institutional constraints and the emergence of social entrepreneurship, at both national and international level.
According to these considerations, multidisciplinary approaches and interdisciplinary contributions will be welcomed and encouraged, in order to produce a cross-fertilization and a deep understanding of a complex, and still little investigated phenomenon.
This track will host original research and case studies by academic and business providers on strategies, processes, tools, and methods to manage knowledge for social entrepreneurship.
social entrepreneurship, social aims, social benefits, knowledge management, knowledge transfer, learning process, social development
Angelo Bonfanti | University of Verona, Italy
Rossella Canestrino | Parthenope University of Naples, Italy
Tomasz Kafel | Cracow University of Economics, Poland
Pierpaolo Magliocca | University of Foggia, Italy
Cristina Simone | Sapienza University of Rome, Italy