Tanja Collavo, DPhil (Ph.D. candidate), Said Business School, Oxford University New College, Holywell Street, OX1 3BN Oxford (UK); e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Social entrepreneurship has always been a contested concept, both within the academic discourse and in practice. A lot of scholarly effort has been put into analyzing the different definitions of social entrepreneurship and the negative consequences that the definitional debate has on the opportunity to advance social entrepreneurship as a research field. Very little is known about what the consequences of the multiple meanings of social entrepreneurship are for people working in the sector. This paper advances knowledge on this topic by looking at the social entrepreneurship sector in England and by investigating through qualitative research methods what sector members think about social entrepreneurship and its unclear boundaries. The results show that there are three different conceptions of social entrepreneurship within the sector in England. However, while everyone agrees on the presence of a definitional debate, opinions on what this means for the sector are several. Some members think it is something positive; some others think it is causing different issues, and a third group considers it as irrelevant.

Keywords: social entrepreneurship, defnitons, social enterprises, social entrepreneurs, UK, England.