Sunday, 29 April 2007

Two papers - Pamela Hartigan and Sally Osberg

• I met up briefly with Pamela Hartigan (Managing Director of the Geneva-based Schwab Foundation) when I arrived. Pamela has been to New Zealand and met with the Tindall Foundation, and was a key influence in establishing both the Social Innovation Investment Group and the New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship. Last year, I was invited to join her meeting of social entrepreneurs that was held in conjunction with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. And many of the people that are members of the Schwab Social Entrepreneur Fellowship were also present at this Oxford World Forum.

• Pamela is soon to publish a book on social entrepreneurship, co-authored with John Elkington, which will be called “The Power of Unreasonable People: How Entrepreneurs create markets to change the world”.

• Just before the conference started, Pamela sent me her latest paper which has just been published in Innovations, the quarterly journal from MIT Press. The paper is co-authored by Klaus Schwab, the Swiss academic and entrepreneur who started the World Economic Forum in Davos thirty years ago, and it is a coherent and useful argument for how government and businesses need to open up more space for social innovation.
“Our fascination with these pragmatic visionaries and their organizations lies much less in the goods and services they provide than in the catalytic role they play in triggering innovations in the social sector. Like the business innovators who come up with major innovations for the marketplace, social innovators are the mad scientists as it were — working away in their organizations that act like social innovation laboratories. They test and perfect different approaches, and when they come up with the most effective and efficient ones with the greatest impact, it should be government and the corporate sectors’ respective roles to celebrate the innovation, take it up, learn from it, and help scale it so that all can benefit...” — Klaus Schwab and Pamela Hartigan
"Social Innovators with a Business Case: Facing 21st Century Challenges One Market at a Time" by Klaus Schwab and Pamela Hartigan
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship website
• Another paper released around the time of the Forum was from Sally Osberg, the CEO of the Skoll Foundation. It is a further attempt at getting a clear definition of social entrepreneurship established. It centers in on defining “entrepreneurship” itself, and how this is expressed in both the business and social fields. The diversity of the examples given in the paper might surprise you ... but it is just this diversity that is reflected amongst the participants of this Oxford Forum.

• Osberg, and her co-author Roger Martin, put an emphasis on innovations that lead to “systemic social change” when discussing the key differences between social entrepreneurs, social activists, and social service providers. (In this, they have come to much the same conclusion as our own discussions in New Zealand.)

• One of the drivers behind writing this paper is the concern (expressed several times at the Skoll Forum) that the promise of social entrepreneurship is not being fulfilled because too many “non-entrepreneurial” efforts are included in the definition. Martin and Osberg are pushing for a much sharper definition of social entrepreneurship, in an effort to determine the extent to which an activity is and is not “in the tent”.

At the Forum, Bill Drayton remarked that this will always be a troublesome exercise ... “ because social entrepreneurs are the sort of people who are always breaking down barriers anyway ... and they will not accept any boundaries put on defining who they are”.
“Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition” by Roger L. Martin & Sally Osberg in Stanford Social Innovation Review (Spring 2007)