While the term social entrepreneurship has existed for close to forty years, it still does not have a
clear definition. Reasons for this lack of clarity include different geographical regions adopting different social entrepreneurship approaches and some social entrepreneurship approaches focusing on systems change instead of independent initiatives. The Social Innovation School of Thought and the Complexity Approach to Social Entrepreneurship are two social entrepreneurship approaches that advocate for a systems approach in order to address complex and wicked problems.
Wicked problems are complex social policy problems: they are complex problems and they are the focus of government policy. Examples of wicked problems include: place-based disadvantage, terrorism, food insecurity, climate change, poverty, ageing populations, obesity and active citizenship. While these problems are quite diverse, they all share the following characteristics: they have multiple causes; they have many interdependencies; different stakeholders have a different understanding of what the problem is and therefore different stakeholders have conflicting goals; they have no clear solution; because of their multi-causality and interdependencies attempts to address one part of the problem can have unforeseen consequences in other parts of the problem; and they are context specific as they have different combinations of intertwined causal factors in different communities.
Complexity Approach to Social Entrepreneurship
The complexity approach to social entrepreneurship does not attempt to intervene in a system by developing an initiative that addresses a few of the underpinning causal factors of a complex or wicked problem. This is because it considers relationships between cause and effect to not be well understood, and it recognises that unforeseen consequences can occur in other parts of a problem system if attempts are made to address the problem with an initiative that focuses on just part of the problem.
( To Be Continued)