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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds To outline the different types of social entrepreneurs, it is recognised that they each make significant, yet diverse, contributions to their communities and societies. Building on the works of Hayek, Kirzner, and Schumpeter, Zahra and others identifies three types of social entrepreneurs– social bricoleur, social constructionist, and social engineer. Social bricoleurs usually focus on discovering and addressing small-scale local social needs. In previous lectures, bricolage is defined as the use of whatever resources and repertoires one has to perform whatever task one faces. Bricolage is entrepreneurial because it involves combining existing local resources to solve problems and leverage new opportunities. In line with Hayek, the critical role private, local knowledge or contextual information plays in the entrepreneurial process is highlighted.

Skip to 1 minute and 26 seconds Successful bricolage requires intimate knowledge of both local environmental conditions and locally available resources. Social bricoleurs exploit such distinct local and tacit knowledge, creating small-scale and simple collaborative solutions to address the social needs in local communities. Social constructionists typically exploit opportunities by filling gaps to underserved clients in order to introduce reforms and innovations to the broader social system. This approach corresponds to Kirzner’s claim that entrepreneurial activities arise from alertness to opportunities leveraged by developing products, goods and services. Entrepreneurs construct and introduce systemic changes and expectations concerning ends and means. Social constructionists are social entrepreneurs as they build, launch, and operate ventures which tackle social needs that are not addressed by existing institutions.

Skip to 2 minutes and 53 seconds Where social bricoleurs improvise solutions to small-scaled local social problems, social constructionists seek to remedy social problems by planning and developing formalised or systemised scalable solutions. Social constructionists bring together knowledge and resources from different locations to solve a widespread but specific problem. Social engineers recognise systemic problems within existing social structures and address them by introducing revolutionary change. Schumpeter’s entrepreneurship builds upon the notion of making new combinations of products, processes, organisations, and markets. Not all social needs are amenable to solutions within existing institutions. Entrepreneurs who tackle these complex problems are denoted social engineers. Social engineers differ significantly from the other two social entrepreneurs, as they identify systemic problems within the social system and structures, and address them by bringing about revolutionary change.

Skip to 4 minutes and 23 seconds Characteristic is the focus on a strategy that contradicts prevailing practise. To conclude, scholars have begun to delineate the distinct domain of social entrepreneurship by identifying different typologies, by examining the potential to address context-specific social problems, and by exploring its implication for total wealth creation. These entrepreneurial typologies vary in how they discover social opportunities, determine their impact on the broader social system, and assemble the resources needed to pursue these opportunities. This approach further increases our understanding as to why social entrepreneurship offers solutions to complex social issues by applying business and market-oriented models. These solutions reflect the unique values that social entrepreneurs hold and the search processes they follow in identifying, evaluating, and exploiting opportunities in a complex and uncertain world.

Types of social entrepreneurs

As social entrepreneurship is path-dependent, different types of entrepreneurs thrive in different environments.

We identify three types of social entrepreneurs: Social Bricoleur, Social Constructionist, and Social Engineer.

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Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World

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