The (R)evolution of the social entrepreneurship concept: a critical historical review

Simon Teasdale*, Enrico Bellazzecca, Anne de Bruin, Michael J. Roy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
161 Downloads (Pure)


The contested concept of social entrepreneurship has gained particular prominence in academic literature over the last few decades. To explore how patterns of understandings relating to social entrepreneurship have emerged and shifted over time, we undertook a critical historical review focusing on the most highly cited social entrepreneurship articles in each of five time periods over the last 30 years. We identify four thematic areas—conceptualization, theoretical approaches, the search for data, and social change outcomes—characteristic of each period, allowing us to plot the terrain of social entrepreneurship scholarship over time. We show how patterns emerge across these themes over time and relate our analysis to wider developments in the field. In concluding, we discuss how the concept has been theoretically and conceptually enriched by an ability to accommodate critique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212S-240S
Number of pages29
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number1_suppl
Early online date1 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • social entrepreneurship
  • critical historical review
  • bibliometric analysis
  • meta-analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management


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