Social Entrepreneurs’ Use of Capitals- Political, Human, Economic and Social

While traditional financial capital is critical to the success of SEOs, it is not their only assets. Social entrepreneurs can be categorized by how they use different forms of capital to achieve their social goals. Mair et al. (2012) found that social entrepreneurs could be categorized by their use of capital, in this case—“a generalized resource”—to achieve social change. In this typology Mair et al. (2012) found four ways by which SEOs use their capital:

  • • Political Capital: Refers to “citizen’s endowment, empowerment and political identity” (Mair et al., 2012, p. 360). These enterprises mobilize groups to leverage political and legal opportunities.
  • • Human Capital: Refers to “individual knowledge, skills and acquired expertise” (Mair et al., 2012, p. 361);
  • • Economic Capital: Refers to “money and other material resources” (Mair et al., 2012, p. 361) This activity includes micro-financing and support of business development; and
  • • Social Capital: Refers to the ability of SE to stimulate civic engagement by bring together different groups to stimulate social change. It refers to “networks of relationships through which individuals can mobilize power and resources” (Mair et al., 2012, p. 361).

As expected, Social entrepreneur’s effective use of a variety of assets is evident in many tourism SEOs. Adventure Alternative/Moving Mountains (Chapter “Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains Trust: A Hybrid Business Model for Social Entrepreneurship in Tourism”) leverages the social capital created during transformative experiences in Nepal or Kenya to seek support for specific issues long after the traveler has completed their trip. The social benefits realized in the Mexican town of Alamos, described in chapter “The BEST Society: From Charity to Social Entrepreneurship”, rely heavily on the social capital. BEST leverages its human capital to support ecotourism development in Borneo.

Degrees of Social Entrepreneurship

While social enterprises are often considered holistically, it is possible to look within the operations of the organization to understand the levels of entrepreneurial activity in the delivery of the social mission. Parente, Lopes, and Marcos (2014) developed a series of profiles based on measures of social entrepreneurial activity in a series of business functions including funding, HR management, volunteer management, work organization, and planning. Using these dimensions, Parente et al. (2014) categorized NFPs into three categories of orientation to social entrepreneurship: high, medium and low. The approach recognizes that even organizations established for SE purposes may apply the principles of SE at different levels across functions within the organization.

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