Heroic Messiahs or Everyday Businessmen? The Rhetoric and the Reality of Social Entrepreneurship in India

Makarand Mody and Jonathon Day

Abstract While the phenomenon of social entrepreneurship is not new, there remain several ambiguities associated with its definition and theoretical formulation. To understand how social entrepreneurs create value in their quest to resolve social issues, it is important to appreciate the motivations that underlie their behavior. This chapter uses the cases of two social entrepreneurs in responsible tourism in India to identify a range of value-oriented and traditional entrepreneurial motivations. It further identifies how these motivations are intricately woven into a process of identify creation that illuminates the performative aspects of social entrepreneurship. Through their association and dissociation with a host of entities in the ecosystem, the social entrepreneurs tend to maintain their organizations’ legitimacy as heroes, thus adhering to the popular social discourse surrounding social entrepreneurship. While such conformity, validated by the entrepreneurs’ life stories, is beneficial in shaping the social entrepreneurial narrative, we argue that the need to further the social entrepreneurship agenda must incorporate alternative forms of thinking and talking about the phenomenon. These alternative discourses illuminate the duality of social entrepreneurship—its rhetoric as a grand, Schumpeterian style innovation and its reality as bricolage.

Keywords Motivation • Values • Identity • Narratives • Bricolage • India

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