Are Social Entrepreneurs Solitary Actors or Team Players?

While much of the analysis tends to describe social entrepreneurs as individual leaders, personally driven for change and working alone to create new organizations and institutions, that only tells part of the story. The focus on sole actors, while appealing, may be somewhat misleading. Spear (2006) observed that Social Entrepreneurship often takes place as a team based activity—as opposed to the “heroic individual”. He identified “distributed entrepreneurship” as a team based approach to Socially Entrepreneurial work. Social Entrepreneurs can be categorized by an approach along a continuum from “sole-actor entrepreneur” through “distributed entrepreneur.” Spear’s (2006) observations were echoed by Peredo and McLean (2006) who state that to be a “social entrepreneur may therefore mean being an individual, a member of a group, or an organization who/which carries out the work of identifying and creatively pursuing a social goal” (p. 64).

That groups and organizations can adopt a “socially entrepreneurial mindset” is particularly important to tourism. As noted in chapter “Social Enterprise Ecosystems: A Case Study of the Danube Delta region of Romania”, tourism is a system and socially entrepreneurial tourism experiences are often delivered by multiple organizations cooperating in networks. Community-based tourism, such as described in chapter “Walking on Country with Bana Yarralji Bubu: A Model for Aboriginal Social Enterprise Tourism”, rely on distributed entrepreneurship. Indeed, given the networked nature of the tourism system, it is common for groups of social entrepreneurs to join together to address social needs. See Fig. 2.

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