Is Social Entrepreneurship the Key to Smaller and More Efficient Governments?
Words like entrepreneurial and social entrepreneurship were foreign terms in the vocabulary of the non-profit sector some twenty years ago. However, non-profit organizations have been operating in a hybrid market with an overlap of for-profit organizations and government agencies. Within this context, social entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs in every sense of the term, but they hold a social mission, and they function – often very efficiently – to fulfill that mission.
As we are witnessing the resurgence of the tested and failed agenda of centralized governments and added bureaucracy as the only way forward, especially at the state level, social entrepreneurship is receiving little attention. The strengthening of the social entrepreneurship movement is undeniable, and it coined impactful philosophical language such as “triple bottom line” to describe a state of affairs where the economic results align with social and environmental impacts.
Social entrepreneurship transcends old and tired ideologies while embracing systems thinking as a way to craft sustainable organizational guiding policies. The non-profit organization embracing this type of entrepreneurship must function within the parameters dictated by free market enterprises as well as traditional business management practices. Hence, the ability to see wholeness requires servant-leadership with a purpose of transformation. And this is the most salient aspect overlapping non-profit and social entrepreneurship.
The servant-leadership style proposes emergence of altruism guided by the love for a cause or a vision the emerging leader wants to serve. It is the “desire to serve first,” as stated by Dr. Greenleaf, the father of the servant-leadership theory. The principle of leadership in this context can be identified in the assessment that “people’s behavior is value-based” as proposed by MacDonald, Burke, and Stewart in their 2006 book, titled Systems leadership: Creating positive
organizations. The essential meaning is that the organization can achieve its stated purpose because the core values form the deep bonds that connect human being one to another, leading to the formation of a social group capable of acting out of love to fulfill a purpose. This aspect is critical in overcoming non-profit challenges through the adoption and implementation of social entrepreneurship models. Ultimately, it is up to private enterprises to look at problems as free market opportunities, and this aspect opens opportunities for non-profits. Many seem to have reached that level of awareness, and it can function as a role model for other entrepreneurs that remain largely interested in how systems can be improved instead of being avoided.