An exit strategy for the definitional elusiveness: A three‐dimensional framework for social entrepreneurship

Bing Ran, Scott Weller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Despite the growing utility and prevalence of social entrepreneurship, an accepted definition remains elusive and infeasible. Yet, it is imperative that the principles guiding social entrepreneurship are identified so that common ground is established to facilitate future research. On the basis of a systematic literature review, this conceptual paper proposes a theoretical framework outlining social entrepreneurship as a three‐dimensional framework as a function of continua of “social” and “business” logics, “beneficial” and “detrimental” social change logics, and “innovation” and “mundane” logics. The framework accommodates the fuzziness and ambiguity associated with social entrepreneurship whilst remaining a workable, identifiable construct. By accounting for the shifting logics practiced by social entrepreneurship that both influence and are influenced by the organizational environment, this framework provides an exit strategy for the definitional elusiveness of social entrepreneurship. The resultant structures and functions of social entrepreneurship are shaped by these constraints as reflected by the fluidity and flexibility endorsed by the framework. Four avenues for future research regarding social entrepreneurship are recommended on the basis of the framework proposed in this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number563
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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