Research in social entrepreneurship: past contributions and future opportunities



Social entrepreneurship has been a topic of academic inquiry for nearly 20 years, yet relatively little scholarly output has appeared in mainstream management and entrepreneurship journals. Our review of this literature reveals that conceptual articles outnumber empirical studies, and empirical efforts often lack formal hypotheses and rigorous methods. These findings suggest that social entrepreneurship research remains in an embryonic state. Future research would benefit from the incorporation of multivariate methods to complement the case study techniques that have dominated previous efforts. Our review also suggests that social entrepreneurship is informed by common areas of interest to management scholars like entrepreneurship, public/nonprofit management, and social issues, all of which represent fruitful venues for future research efforts. Therefore, we recommend that scholars embrace key themes in strategic entrepreneurship and frame their research using established theories, such as contingency theory, creation theory, discovery theory, innovation diffusion theory, resource dependence theory, and other theoretical bases relevant to strategic entrepreneurship research. Copyright © 2009 Strategic Management Society.