This issue seeks to inform and further Social Entrepreneurship (SE) in theory and practice by looking at it from a technology angle. We invite submissions of high-quality academic research from a variety of perspectives - following our guiding indicative topics below.
There are no methodological preferences – in-depth case studies, qualitative as well as quantitative approaches are welcome - but all submissions will be peer-reviewed to ensure high academic rigour in their conduct. Because of the novelty and high dynamics of this topic however, we particularly invite research that is informed by practice and fieldwork.
In addition, we plan for a workshop in Oxford in September 2019 to provide further guidance and allow for interaction between the potential authors and with specially invited technology-driven social entrepreneurs.
Social entrepreneurs are more and more seen to include cutting-edge technological innovations in their business models to achieve their social mission and create a sustainable commercial income at the same time. Despite this practical relevance, little research exists that looks at the potential nexus of technological and social innovation. Early studies from neighbouring fields show a lot of promise (Mulloth, Kickul, & Gundry, 2016; Rahman, Taghizadeh, Ramayah, & Alam, 2017; Schweitzer, Rau, Gassmann, & van den Hende, 2015).
An example for this said combination may be FinTechs, which offer global access to financial markets at a fraction of costs of traditional finance providers and with much clearer and simpler ways of interaction (Lehner, Harrer, & Simlinger, 2018; Li, Goh, & Heng, 2016). This allows people from disadvantaged populations to better participate in financial markets. At the same time some FinTechs are offering embedded financial literacy programmes and incentives in order to empower people to make informed decisions about financial products and their use. Such informed participation may well be seen as empowerment and as a step towards a more inclusive society (Ndung'u, 2017). Already, mobile payments for example have shown to be a real game changer in countries with a less-developed traditional banking industry (Hughes & Lonie, 2007)
Another example would be the free availability of the internet based Blockchain technology (Larios-Hernández, 2017; Mainelli & Smith, 2015), with the potential to revolutionise - amongst many others - fair- trade initiatives (de Meijer, 2016; Mainelli & Smith, 2015; Scott, 2016), because of a single, ubiquitously available data-chain for the verification of each step in the logistics of a product. Blockchain is praised already in research for its revolutionary potential, from a more secure crowd-lending (Schweizer, Schlatt, Urbach, & Fridgen, 2017) to a fully transparent governance 3.0 in co-creation processes (Peters & Heraud, 2015) - the list would go on - and practice comes up with more and more innovative solutions based on Blockchain technology as we speak. A very interesting perspective is offered by Dubé et al. (2018) when they show insights how big data can vastly improve food production while at the same time allow for a societal-scale inclusive growth.
Closely related to big data is Artificial intelligence (AI), denominating data-science driven algorithms that can be easily be used via apps and cloud services such as Google. AI-empowered apps on plain mobile phones are a cheap and easy way to access expert know-how and already play a big role in social innovation. Because of this technology, expert medical diagnoses for example can be done even without access to a doctor (Srivastava & Shainesh, 2015; Zajicek & Meyers, 2018). This computer based expert technology may vastly improve the provision of health services for example in rural Africa and by that save many a life. In addition, robots with AI will allow for a much better care for elderly people (Bemelmans, Gelderblom, Jonker, & De Witte, 2012) in the future – especially important for the West with its ever aging population and tendency to single households. So-called “chat-bots” that can hardly be distinguished from humans in their answers and intelligence will provide a 24/7 interactive communication (Baron, 2015) and offer services to people who have for example been somewhat alienated from traditional societal networks. All this will certainly change Social Entrepreneurship. Its traditional reliance on the willingness and availability of volunteers will probably be reduced and gradually replaced by virtual assistants that offer much better scaling opportunities.
These technological developments show tremendous potential for social innovations, yet not all that glitters may be gold. Therefore, in this issue we are not only looking for excellent inspirations of what is possible and how we can research it, but we are also inviting critical voices concerning for example ethical implications and what it means to have a pro-social motivation in a technology-driven world.
Indicative (but not exhaustive) topics may be:
- The role of dynamic capabilities and teams in technology-driven social entrepreneurship (TDSE)
- The legitimacy of organisations offering social innovations based on technology
- Longitudinal case-studies demonstrating the inner workings of TDSE
- Crowdfunding platforms and their role as catalysts for social change
- FinTechs and their explicit and implicit social value propositions towards an inclusive society
- Data-driven impact investing and impact measurement based on artificial intelligence
- Blockchain enabled business ideas and derived models for social innovation (e.g. for fair-trade, crowd-lending)
- The global nature of technological innovation and its impact on social entrepreneurship and scaling opportunities
- The role of the tech-driven sharing economy and social entrepreneurship
- Opportunity recognition and tech-driven Co-Creation: New ways to think about the development of social entrepreneurship opportunities
- How research can deal with the ontologies of virtual helpers, robots and chat-bots
- Artificial-intelligence powered apps for health and welfare provision
- Virtual assistants versus volunteers, opportunities for scaling up or de-humanisation?
- The blockchain as a narrative technology, looking at social ontology and normative configurations in the age of post-truth, post-postmodernism
- Ethical considerations and implications of TDSE
- Critical voices and humanist perspectives on TDSE
- Submissions open October 2018 and run until 1 June 2019
- Visit the Journal of Social Entrepreneurship's 'Instructions for Authors' prior to submission
- Please submit your manuscripts using our online system, and be sure to select the special issue option
- Publication is currently planned for early 2020
- A workshop for selected papers is planned in Oxford in September 2019 to provide guidance for the finalisation before second review and allow the participants to interact in order to create links between the manuscripts
Baron, N. S. (2015). Shall We Talk? Conversing With Humans and Robots. The Information Society, 31(3), 257-264. doi:10.1080/01972243.2015.1020211
Bemelmans, R., Gelderblom, G. J., Jonker, P., & De Witte, L. (2012). Socially assistive robots in elderly care: A systematic review into effects and effectiveness. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 13(2), 114-120. e111.
de Meijer, C. R. (2016). The UK and Blockchain technology: A balanced approach. Journal of Payments Strategy & Systems, 9(4), 220-229.
Dubé, L., Du, P., McRae, C., Sharma, N., Jayaraman, S., & Nie, J.-Y. (2018). Convergent innovation in food through big data and artificial intelligence for societal-scale inclusive growth. Technology Innovation Management Review, 8(2).
Hughes, N., & Lonie, S. (2007). M-PESA: mobile money for the “unbanked” turning cellphones into 24-hour tellers in Kenya. Innovations: technology, governance, globalization, 2(1-2), 63-81.
Larios-Hernández, G. J. (2017). Blockchain entrepreneurship opportunity in the practices of the unbanked. Business Horizons, 60(6), 865-874.
Lehner, O. M., Harrer, T., & Simlinger, R. (2018). When Function Meets Emotion, Change Can Happen: Societal Value Propositions and Disruptive Potential in FinTechs. Paper presented at the IEEE 51th HICSS International Conference on System Sciences
Li, D., Goh, K.-Y., & Heng, C.-S. (2016). Monetizing User-Generated Content in FinTech: An Empirical Study of a Social Investing Site. Paper presented at the 37th International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), Dublin.
Mainelli, M., & Smith, M. (2015). Sharing ledgers for sharing economies: an exploration of mutual distributed ledgers (aka blockchain technology). The Journal of Financial Perspectives: FinTech, 3(3).
Mulloth, B., Kickul, J. R., & Gundry, L. K. (2016). Driving technology innovation through social entrepreneurship at Prezi. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 23(3), 753-767.
Ndung'u, N. (2017). The M-Pesa Technological Revolution for Financial Services in Kenya: A Platform for Financial Inclusion. In Handbook of Blockchain, Digital Finance, and Inclusion, Volume 1 (pp. 37-56): Elsevier.
Peters, M. A., & Heraud, R. (2015). Toward a political theory of social innovation: collective intelligence and the co-creation of social goods. Journal of Self-Governance & Management Economics, 3(3).
Rahman, S. A., Taghizadeh, S. K., Ramayah, T., & Alam, M. M. D. (2017). Technology acceptance among micro-entrepreneurs in marginalized social strata: The case of social innovation in Bangladesh. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 118, 236-245.
Schweitzer, F., Rau, C., Gassmann, O., & van den Hende, E. (2015). Technologically reflective individuals as enablers of social innovation. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 32(6), 847-860.
Schweizer, A., Schlatt, V., Urbach, N., & Fridgen, G. (2017). Unchaining Social Businesses–Blockchain as the Basic Technology of a Crowdlending Platform.
Scott, B. (2016). How can cryptocurrency and blockchain technology play a role in building social and solidarity finance? Retrieved from
Srivastava, S. C., & Shainesh, G. (2015). Bridging the Service Divide Through Digitally Enabled Service Innovations: Evidence from Indian Healthcare Service Providers. MIS Quarterly, 39(1), 245-267.
Zajicek, H., & Meyers, A. (2018). Digital health entrepreneurship. In Digital Health (pp. 271-287): Springer.
- Guest Editor : Othmar M. Lehner, University of Oxford (firstname.lastname@example.org)