The Role of Business Schools in Educating Social Entrepreneurs: An Exploratory Study of UK Business Schools
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Notwithstanding the growing interest in social entrepreneurship (S E) education, the S E field is gradually losing its “social” status. Accordingly, there is a need to emphasise the “social” aspect of S E education in order to clearly distinguish S E from the corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices implemented by mainstream entrepreneurs. It follows that in order to clearly differentiate between social value and CSR, S E education should help develop social entrepreneurs that are both responsible (i.e. social entrepreneurs who remain true to the original idea of creating social value and reinvesting profit for more social change activities) and socially innovative (i.e. come up with new ideas or ways to resolve social problems. S E instructors can help facilitate this developmental process provided that the right teaching content and methods are employed. The general lack of empirical research in S E education has limited our understanding of the role S E education can play. We do not understand clearly which teaching content and methods are employed or can be employed to encourage the creation of potential social innovative thinking, responsible, social entrepreneurs. This study has two main objectives. The first objective is to assess the current content of the S E curriculum in UK business schools in order to identify best teaching content that can enhance social innovative thinking and the development of potential responsible social entrepreneurs. The second objective is to analyze the teaching methods currently used by S E educators in UK business schools in order to identify the best teaching methods that enhance social innovative thinking and the development of potential responsible social entrepreneurs. These two objectives were met by examining the syllabi of 5 UK business schools offering S E as a course or a module at masters, undergraduate or foundation levels (Westminster University Business School, Oxford Brookes University Business School (Ruskin College), Goldsmith University of London, Northampton University Business School and Lancaster University Management School). The study interviewed 8 S E instructors responsible for designing and delivering these S E courses/modules and 30 students who successfully passed through the S E courses/modules across these five business schools. Drawing on data analysed using within and across case analysis methods and the social identity theory, this study presents a model that instructors can draw on and help students VI categorise and identify as potential social innovative thinking, responsible, social entrepreneurs. According to the findings the key teaching content that has enhanced social innovative thinking includes: historical and contemporary issues of S E, the resource base/ bricolage and effectuation theories and the business canvas model/divergent and convergent thinking tools. In addition, the key teaching methods include: group social business planning, implementation and presentation, interviewing/visiting social entrepreneurs/enterprises. The findings further reveal that, the key teaching content that has or can enhance responsible S E includes: core values of integrity, measuring outcomes, ethical social enterprise branding/ the dark side of CSR and book review of the biography of social entrepreneurs. Moreover, the key teaching methods include: Group social business planning, implementation and presentation, group comparative analyses of real cases and guest speaking. With respect to its contribution, this study proposes a model that is believed to enhance S E education in the following ways: firstly, it offers precise teaching content and methods that educators can employ and help students categorise and identify as potential social innovative thinking, responsible, social entrepreneurs. Secondly, it enables potential social entrepreneurs to value the importance of creating social value as a group. As for limitations, this study was conducted in the UK with a focus on 5 business schools that offer S E as a module/course in England. The sampling strategy employed to select these business schools was based on whether each business school was amongst the top 50 UK university/business schools ranking according to eduniversal ranking in 2014 and offers S E as a module/course. Though with a very selective sampling strategy, the question is whether all key findings can be generalise in different context. While this study identified and explained how core values of integrity can enhance responsible S E, the study did not examine techniques that can be employ in a working environment to maintain these values in the long run. Further research should examine techniques that can be employed in a working environment to maintain these values in the long run.
PhD Thesis - School of Management
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