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Article

Poverty is more than a lack of money or an inability to afford basic necessities. It is an experience that is multidimensional and includes challenges related to literacy, health, food security, housing, transportation, safety, fatigue, underemployment, limited social networks, and limited access to many opportunities available to those in other income categories. Poverty is a pernicious global problem with unacceptably high levels persisting in spite of trillions of dollars of annual spending by governments and other organizations. While this kind of investment represents a critical lifeline to many individuals and families, it is not moving enough of them out of poverty. As a result, there is a need to explore alternative solutions and approaches. Entrepreneurship, or the creation of businesses, by those experiencing poverty is one potential pathway to a better life. Yet it is a pathway about which we understand relatively little. While the poverty–entrepreneurship interface has received growing attention from scholars over the past few years, very little theoretical or conceptual work has been done. More critically, there is scant empirical evidence on such basic questions as the rate of business creation by those in poverty, success and sustainability rates, key success factors, the role of institutions and entrepreneurial ecosystems in venture outcomes, and much more. The unique difficulties faced by these entrepreneurs can be captured through the liability of poorness, a concept which includes gaps in five types of literacy, a scarcity or short-term orientation, severe nonbusiness distractions, and the lack of any safety net. As a result, the ventures that are created tend to be survival businesses that are labor intensive, with low margins, little differentiation, no bargaining power with suppliers or customers, lack of equipment and technology, and limited capacity. These are fragile enterprises, suggesting the priority may not simply be fostering higher levels of start-up activity among the poor, but interventions that enable them to become sustainable. A beginning point in realizing the potential of entrepreneurship as a poverty alleviation tool is the development of new insights on expanding opportunity horizons of these individuals, helping them escape the commodity trap, rethinking resourcing and microcredit, and assisting with adoption of the entrepreneurial mindset.

Article

Institutional logics shape how actors interpret and organize their environment. Institutional logics include society’s structural, normative, and symbolic influences that provide organizations and individuals with norms, values, assumptions, and rules that guide decision-making and action. While institutional logics influence individuals and organizations, they do not exist/form in a vacuum, but rather are instantiated in the practices and patterned behaviors of actors who act as carriers of logics in specific contexts. Given the dynamic interaction between institutional logics and individual/organizational actors, research has begun to explore the micro-level processes that influence institutional logic changes to help explain how and why those who are shaped by an institution enact changes in the very context in which they are embedded. Thus, the formation and changing of institutional logics involve precipitating action—which can include entrepreneurial action. Entrepreneurial action—especially in moments of crisis (e.g., when there is a disruptive event, natural disaster, or external feature that disturbs the status quo), can function as a micro-foundation for institutional logic shifts. An entrepreneurship model of dominant logic shifts therefore reveals how crises induce sensemaking activities that can influence shifts in how actor’s see the world, which in turn motivates the pursuit of entrepreneurial opportunities. Significant disruptions, such as environmental jolts, have a triggering effect in enabling individuals to problematize previously held beliefs and logics, allowing them to temporarily “step out of” status quo institutional logics. With prior beliefs and logics problematized, individual decision-makers become open to seeing new interpretations of their surroundings as it is and as it could be. Therefore, actors shift their dominant way of seeing the world (e.g., dominant logic) and then enact this new logic through ventures that, ultimately, can shift and alter institutional-level logics. Therefore, an entrepreneurship model of dominant logic shifts serves as an explanation for how broader institutional logics may shift as a result of the interaction between entrepreneurial action and the environment following a major disruption.

Article

Sophie Bacq and Jill R. Kickul

Social entrepreneurship is an ever-growing and ever-changing field. Known as the process of identifying, evaluating, and exploiting opportunities aiming at social value creation by means of commercial, market-based activities and of the use of a wide range of resources, social entrepreneurship combines market elements with a societal purpose. An overview of the evolution of social entrepreneurship as a field of research from its origins in the 1980s to date, and analysis of the themes presented at The Annual Social Entrepreneurship Conference over more than a decade, show how the core components of social entrepreneurship remained as the field evolved—social value creation, business model, and social entrepreneurial intentions, with the addition of nuances and complexities over time. These trends demonstrate the importance—and unique opportunities—for social entrepreneurship researchers to pursue further research on scaling, impact measurement, and systems change. Social entrepreneurship bears the promise and potential to revisit, and potentially challenge, the theoretical assumptions made in traditional entrepreneurship and management scholarship, embracing a multiplicity of salient stakeholders, other levels of analysis, or the relevance of community.