Monday, June 23, 2008

The Future of Social Enterprise: Harvard Business Review

I had a "duh" moment yesterday. The Kasturi Rangan, Herman Leonard, Susan McDonald HBS working paper has helped me crystallise what my blog is about- yes, I admit it- at least till I change my mind. They examine the "confluence of forces that is shaping the field of social enterprise" and propose three scenarios for how this sector might evolve (full text here):
1. Consolidation: In this scenario, funding will keep growing in a gradual, linear fashion and organizations will compete for resources by demonstrating performance. The sector will consolidate, with some efficient organizations gaining scale, some merging and then growing, and some failing to achieve either scale or efficiency and eventually shutting down.
2. Entrepreneurial: In a more optimistic future, existing and new enterprises will apply strategies to achieve and demonstrate performance, improving efficiency and effectiveness and attracting new funding sources. More organizations will enter a reformed, competitive field of social change with new entrepreneurial models, established traditional organizations, and innovative funding strategies fueling widespread success.
3. Expressive: Rather than focusing exclusively on performance, funders and organizations may view their investment as an expressive civic activity. As much value is placed on participating in a cause as on employing concrete measures of impact or efficiency. In this scenario, funding will flow as social entrepreneurs experiment with new models based on a range of individual priorities and relationships.

I am not satisfied with item 1 - too slow and more of the same. Item 3 is okay but business scales much faster than pure social activity. So here I am: My blog is promoting (creating mind share, providing links and just plain evangelizing) the entrepreneurial scenario (#2) leveraging technical innovation - much like what has fuelled the growth of silicon valley. What would you say?

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