Corporate Social Entrepreneurship

by James E. Austin & Ezequiel Reficco

Overview — Accelerated organizational transformation faces a host of obstacles well-documented in the change management literature. Because corporate social entrepreneurship (CSE) expands the core purpose of corporations and their organizational values, it constitutes fundamental change that can be particularly threatening and resisted. Furthermore, it pushes the corporation's actions more broadly and deeply into the area of social value creation where the firm's experiences and skill sets are less developed. The disruptive social innovations intrinsic to the CSE approach amplify this zone of discomfort. Fortunately, the experiences of innovative companies such as Timberland and Starbucks show how these challenges may be overcome. Key concepts include:

  • Values-based leadership, the synergistic generation of social and economic value, and strategic cross-sector alliances are key ingredients to achieving a sustainably successful business.
  • For companies to move their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to the next level, they need to rethink their current approaches to CSR, tapping into the creativity of each individual.
  • Like all entrepreneurship, CSE is about creating disruptive change in the pursuit of new opportunities. It combines the willingness and desire to create joint economic and social value with the entrepreneurial redesign, systems development, and action necessary to carry it out.

Author Abstract

Corporate Social Entrepreneurship (CSE) is a process aimed at enabling business to develop more advanced and powerful forms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). 8 pages.

Paper Information

  • Full Working Paper Text
  • Working Paper Publication Date: March 2009
  • HBS Working Paper Number: 09-101
  • Faculty Unit(s):