Call for Papers

Academy of Management Learning & Education
2012 Special Issue

Educating Social Entrepreneurs and Social Innovators

THOMAS B. LAWRENCE, Simon Fraser University
NELSON PHILLIPS, Imperial College London
PAUL TRACEY, Cambridge University

Social innovation has been defined as a novel solution to a social problem where the value accrues primarily to society rather than private interests, and which addresses a social need in a more effective way than existing solutions (Leadbeater, 2008a; Phills et al., 2008). When social innovation occurs through the formation of a new business venture combining social goals and for-profit activity, the result is social entrepreneurship and the founders of these special firms are social entrepreneurs. Social innovators and social entrepreneurs operate in a diverse range of communities and tackle many kinds of social problems including poverty, social exclusion and environmental degradation.

Social entrepreneurship and social innovation are increasingly recognized as crucial domains for management educators (Tracey & Phillips, 2007). An increasing number of social entrepreneurs from non-profits and social enterprises are entering business schools in order learn the skills and competencies required to build sustainable businesses. At the same time, corporations are now under intense pressure to behave in ethical and socially responsible ways, and consequently are looking to hire people with skills in social innovation and to develop these skills in existing employees. As a result, business schools will increasingly be expected to deliver skills and knowledge in the areas of social entrepreneurship and innovation as part of their undergraduate, MBA and executive programmes.

Interest in social entrepreneurship and innovation among business school students is evidenced both by the growing number of social enterprise student societies, and by the fact that social entrepreneurship business plan competitions are now commonplace in many universities (Olszak & Sidorick, 2003).  Moreover, the 2010 Net Impact conference hosted by the University of Michigan – an event for graduate students in business and management studies interested in social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility – is expected to attract around 2,500 participants (

Business schools therefore have an important role to play in nurturing the next generation of social entrepreneurs and innovators. Indeed, some schools have already taken important steps in this direction, including the Social Enterprise Initiative at Harvard Business School, the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University, and the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University. Yet the distinctive challenge of educating social entrepreneurs and innovators has seldom been subject to systematic discussion and debate by management educators. Specifically, there has been relatively little research about the effectiveness of different pedagogic approaches and strategies, and the extent to which these vary in the context of particular settings and social issues.

The purpose of this special issue is to consider the learning and educational implications of social entrepreneurship and social innovation for management educators, as well as for businesses, nonprofits and social enterprises. In this vein, we encourage submissions that address social innovation and social entrepreneurship education in academic and/or workplace settings. Consistent with the format of Academy of Management Learning & Education, empirical and conceptual articles for the Research & Reviews section, and appropriate material for the Essays, Dialogues, and Interviews section are welcome. Some research questions, issues, and interview topics that contributions might address, among many others, are:

  • What topics in social innovation and social entrepreneurship are most important to address in business curricula, and/or organizational training and development programs from the perspective of both business and society? Do these differ by region, culture, country, or level of education?
  • How can social innovation and social entrepreneurship be integrated into teaching and learning so that students and/or employees, including managers, appreciate the relationships among these phenomena?
  • What are the differences and similarities between traditional entrepreneurship education and the education of social entrepreneurs? What does this mean for social entrepreneurship education?
  • What techniques inside and outside the classroom (e.g., lectures, discussions, site visits, guest speakers, simulations, case studies, video, projects, and on-line activities) have proven successful in developing social entrepreneurs and innovators?  What approaches work in different circumstances and with different types of students/participants?
  • What differences are there between teaching social innovation and entrepreneurship to budding entrepreneurs and teaching social entrepreneurs and innovators how to manage established businesses?
  • Does social entrepreneurship education allow social entrepreneurs and innovators operating in both non-profit and for-profit environments to generate improved social outcomes?
  • From a more critical perspective, is the business school the right place to be training social innovators and social entrepreneurs?
  • How can those who have engaged in social entrepreneurship education and/or training and development best receive acknowledgement for such experience and benefit in terms of organizational assignment, career development, and promotion decisions?
  • What roles can and should executives, managers, human resource personnel, and consultants play in social entrepreneurship education in the workplace? What roles can and should university presidents and provosts, deans and department chairs play in advancing social entrepreneurship education in academia? What best practices currently exist? How common is such involvement at present? How can such involvement be encouraged?

Paper Procedure: Submissions are due between August 1 and September 1, 2011, and should adhere to the “Style and Format” guide for authors that can be found at Manuscripts should be submitted to, and designated under Manuscript Type as “Special Issue-Social Entrepreneurship 2012”. Pre-submission discussion of and consultation on potential submission ideas and topics is also welcome. For further information, please contact the lead guest editor, Tom Lawrence, at

All submissions will be subject to a rigorous double-blind peer-review process, with one special issue editor acting as action editor, and final approval coming from the journal editor. Invitations to revise and resubmit will follow initial submissions in approximately 3 months, with a final deadline of March 1 for revised submissions.

Contact Info:



Tom Lawrence
Faculty of Business Administration
Simon Fraser University
500 Granville Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V6C1W6



Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: