30 Apr 2012
I have recently become interested in exploring historical views on the role of the entrepreneur in society. Questions like ”How have entrepreneurs been defined and viewed over the past two centuries?” And ”Are social entrepreneurs or social purpose enterprises really all that new? ” are a preoccupation these days.
During my search, I came across this journal article entitled “The age of the civic entrepreneur: Restoring civil society and building economic community” by Douglas Henton, John Melville, and Kimberly Walesh.
The article was published in the National Civic Review; Summer97, Vol. 86 Issue 2 and it defines a civic entrepreneur not only by what they do but how they do it.
What is a Civic Entrepreneur?
In the eyes of Henton, Melville and Walesh, civic entrepreneurs are those who “…get involved in their community out of enlightened, long-term self-interest. They believe that their personal long-term interests and those of their organization are to some extent tied to the health of the local economy and the community. They view it as being in their best interest to work toward a long-term positive interconnectedness between business vitality, schools and universities, physical infrastructure, natural environment, and tax base. This motivation is in direct contrast to traditional roles that have been played by business and other community leaders–the lobbyist who advocates narrow positions, the philanthropist who contributes money for personal recognition, and the opportunist who seeks personal notoriety or pursues short-term economic interests.”
It would seem to me that the term social entrepreneur and civic entrepreneur are essentially the same thing when defined at the core level. And if that is the case, why the different qualifier?
Perhaps it is because the same idea is subject to the lexicon of the discipline or academic/experiential background of the person(s) seeking to define it.
The term civic entrepreneur appears to be used most often in community/economic development circles. Whereas social entrepreneur is used mostly in non-profit circles.
So what term is best suited to describe the same idea in the for-profit, business circles?
Thus far, the term social entrepreneur appears to be used as the umbrella term to cover for for profit and not for profit sectors but leaving civic entrepreneur to the public sector.
And this worries me a little! Perhaps social entrepreneurs should cover all three pillars. Or, perhaps the social-benefit business sector (versus public service or not for profit person) needs its own unique term for this idea.
If the latter is true, what should that term be? I would welcome ideas. And by the way, here is a link to the whole article on Civic Entrepreneurship:
<A href=”http://proxyau.wrlc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=80325&site=ehost-live”>The age of the civic entrepreneur: Restoring civil society and building economic community.</A>