Entrepreneurial Social Responsibility: Scoping the Territory

  • Richard K. BlundelEmail author
  • Laura J. Spence
  • Stefania Zerbinati
Part of the The International Society of Business, Economics, and Ethics Book Series book series (ISBEE, volume 2)


In this paper we scope the relationship between entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Both entrepreneurship and CSR have attracted increased interest in the early 21st century and been positioned as offering solutions to economic, social and environmental challenges. Previous attempts to determine causal influence between the two concepts have been inconclusive. We clarify the difficult to define concepts of entrepreneurship and CSR by focusing on entrepreneurial process and positive social change in particular. We identify three distinct approaches to this relationship: ‘mainstream’, ‘counter-cultural/critical’ and ‘reformist’ and locate our contribution in relation to these streams of ideas. Building on the CSR definition of Aguilera et al. (2007), we define Entrepreneurial Social Responsibility (‘ESR’) as the dynamic consideration of, and response to, issues beyond the narrow economic, technical and legal requirements of the firm to accomplish social and environmental benefits along with traditional economic gains. We argue that the territory of ESR can best be explored through the use of a multi-level analysis approach to researching the entrepreneurial process. ESR is important both conceptually and in policy terms and is an advancement because it occupies an intellectual space neither fully revealed nor addressed in existing CSR or entrepreneurship research. In moving towards a response to the research question: In what circumstances is positive social contribution an outcome of the entrepreneurial process?, we present conceptual model of ESR which can accommodate a multi-level perspective. We enhance the CSR field by integrating a dynamic approach into the concept, and augment the entrepreneurship field by opening up to more systematic study, the social and environmental qualities of a social phenomenon that is often interpreted within an exclusively economic and instrumental frame of reference.


Entrepreneurial social responsibility CSR Entrepreneurship 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard K. Blundel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laura J. Spence
    • 2
  • Stefania Zerbinati
    • 3
  1. 1.Open University, OU Business SchoolMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Centre for Research into Sustainability School of ManagementRoyal Holloway University of LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Brunel Research in Enterprise, Innovation, Sustainability and EthicsBrunel UniversityUxbridgeUK

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