Volume 13, 2016
Casey J. Frid, Imran Chowdhury, Claudia G. Green
An Experiential Field Study in Social Entrepreneurship
Research has shown social entrepreneurs are less likely to abandon their efforts when they develop skills to operate in situations where both social and economic demands must be balanced. However, students may have difficulty grasping the process by which such skills are acquired. They may also have only a vague understanding of how these skills are applied during both the creation and operation of new social ventures. This paper presents a theoretical and practical approach to teaching new venture creation and stakeholder management vis-à-vis the specific actions and behaviors undertaken by social entrepreneurs. During a 10-day, experiential field study, students personally engage social entrepreneurs to understand how they manage the oft-conflicting demands of financial, organizational, community, and environmental stakeholders. The objective is for students to discover the process of new venture creation and management. The field study itself is a process of self-directed, interactive discovery whereby students develop and administer an interview protocol, observe an entrepreneur operating his or her venture, and write a case study addressing a particular challenge in the area of stakeholder management and social entrepreneurship. After reviewing the literature on education in social entrepreneurship and experiential learning, this paper describes how to implement the exercise. Learning outcomes from student interviews and the case study are discussed.