Is social entrepreneurship transformational leadership in action?

Divya Bhutiani*, Kimberly Flicker, Padmakumar Nair, Aard Groen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)
    212 Downloads (Pure)


    As the title indicates we started with this question with a view to understand how research findings in these two fields of study, social entrepreneurship and transformational leadership, can help groom transformational leaders. It has been argued persuasively by leadership scholars that transformational leaders are essential to building sustainable organizations which consistently create wealth and contribute to the well-being of its employees. Even though the importance of transformational leadership in organizations is gaining more and more acceptance among both practitioners and scholars, most organizations still practice a transactional work style. These transactional work environments are not conducive for developing transformational leaders and therefore in this paper we suggest that letting aspiring leaders to get involved in social entrepreneurial ventures is an effective way to groom future transformational leaders.
    In this research we explored and uncovered the relationship between social entrepreneurship and transformational leadership for the following two purposes: First, to help social entrepreneurship researchers learn from the transformational leadership literature. Compared to social entrepreneurship research, the field of transformational leadership has reached a certain level of maturity so that social entrepreneurship researchers can borrow proven research methodologies and ideas from it. Secondly, we use this knowledge to develop strategies for instilling transformational leadership skills in students and practitioners aspiring to become transformational leaders. We have developed a framework to compare the conceptual basis of both social entrepreneurship and transformational leadership. We have also tried to explore the similarities between the processes of social-entrepreneuring and transformational-leading using this framework. Additionally, we have used the framework to study three of the most famous social entrepreneur turned transformational leaders of our time: Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Wangari Maathai. We propose that helping people to experience social entrepreneuring is an effective way to instill transformational leadership skills.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPatterns in Social Entrepreneurship Research
    EditorsJill Kickul, Sophie Bacq
    PublisherEdward Elgar
    Number of pages24
    ISBN (Electronic)9781781003596
    ISBN (Print)9781781003589
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2012


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