Social Entrepreneurship Perspectives: Triangulated Approaches to Hybridity


O. Lehner - Social Entrepreneurship Perspectives: Triangulated Approaches to Hybridity - JSBE, 2012, pp. 177


The aim of this thesis is to contribute to our knowledge and understanding of the construct of social entrepreneurship (SE). This study consists of three main parts: (1) an introductory essay that presents social entrepreneurship perspectives as found in literature, examines possible frameworks and elaborates on the inherent ambiguity of the term. (2) four articles, each with its own perspective and aim, but united in a quest for validity and methodological robustness, and (3) a reflection on how research in SE can be conducted given the hybridity and different contexts, and how the actual application in the research articles worked out. It ends with an expanded research agenda on SE on a micro level. This dissertation uses triangulation and mixed-mode research approaches, and applies a variety of methods in the four articles. The varied data derives from meta-studies, an online survey using Likertscales, focus groups and interviews produced in collaboration social entrepreneurs. The main argument in this study is that social entrepreneurship is not a neutral and static phenomenon, but socially constructed and loaded with meanings. Hence, it needs to receive adequate attention from more contextual, critical and constructionist viewpoints to deal with the inherent hybridity and ambiguity. It is discussed and argued that – a) current research on social entrepreneurship needs to acknowledge and even put a special emphasis on the cultural, societal and situational contexts in which it is conducted; b) concepts that are produced through social interaction should receive appropriate research attention that also acknowledges the ontological and paradigmatical nature of these phenomena; and c) while a variety of entrepreneurial approaches can be identified in social entrepreneurship, such as for example opportunity recognition, these approaches differ in their actual application, partly due to the double bottom-line between the social and commercial goals. The results of this study highlight the ambiguous, yet fruitful nature of social entrepreneurship and examine how the boundaries of SE on all levels, between societal sectors, institutions, collectives as well as individuals remain blurred - but at the same time it explores methodological approaches to nevertheless produce meaningful and contributory results.