Make your own free website on

Masters Degree Project (MDP)

Business Social Entrepreneurs:
Working Towards Sustainable Communities
Through Socially Responsible Business Practices

Click the text or icons below to download
or view the following documents. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the following pdf files, click here to download the program for free.



Executive Summary


Case Study Summary


MDP Document

2MB (171 pages)

Multimedia CD Contents


[[ Go to Audio/Visual Presentation ]]


Working toward sustainable communities
through socially responsible business practices

By Saralyn V. Hodgkin

Prepared in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree in the Faulty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada).
April, 2002.

The purpose of this Master's Degree Project (MDP) is to explore business social entrepreneurship as a means of working towards sustainable community development. Based on this exploration, I will propose recommendations to the Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship on how best to support business social entrepreneurs and to develop the field of business social entrepreneurship. In the theoretical framework, overlapping the concepts of sustainable community development, business social responsibility and social entrepreneurship creates the business social entrepreneur criteria: values driven, works toward sustainable communities and has an entrepreneurial spirit and business approach. These criteria are applied to four Calgary businesses. The common themes from these businesses helped to produce the following recommendations made to the Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship: (1) create a supportive business social entrepreneur network; (2) integrate the theory of business social entrepreneurship into university classrooms; and (3) publicize and disseminate business social entrepreneurship information.

Key Words: sustainable community development, social entrepreneur*, business social responsib*, business social entrepreneur*, socially innovative entrepreneur*, triple bottom line, sustainab*, responsible entrepreneur*, social* responsib*, entrep*.

Executive Summary

The purpose of this Masters Degree Project (MDP) is to explore business social entrepreneurship as a means of working towards sustainable community development. Based on this exploration, I make recommendations concerning business social entrepreneurship to the Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.

Exploring social entrepreneurship in business - perspective that business is a tool to build sustainable communities Social entrepreneurship combined with business people conducting socially responsible business practices results in using businesses to tackle social change. Saralyn Hodgkin

The following summarizes the methodology for each of the three MDP objectives:

1) To develop a business social entrepreneur profile by using the concepts of sustainable community development, business social responsibility, and social entrepreneurship. This profile will be used to create business social entrepreneurship criteria. This was done through a literature review, key informant interviews and by attending industry events that are all related to the theoretical framework concepts.

2) Apply the business social entrepreneur criteria to four Calgary businesses. This approach created case studies through selecting four accessible, for-profit Calgary small business entrepreneurs with the values of socially responsible business practices and sustainable community development. Key informant interviews were conducted and a content analysis of the interviews provided the material for the case studies. The case study material was synthesized to create common themes of business social entrepreneurs.

3) Develop recommendations for the Canadian Centre of Social Entrepreneurship (CCSE) that suggest actions to support business social entrepreneurs and to develop the field of business social entrepreneurship. This approach included conducting key informant interviews with the CCSE and combined the CCSE mandate with the BSE common themes to create recommendations to the CCSE.

Theoretical Framework

Figure 1 (Diagram 1) Business social entrepreneurship is found in the overlap of SCD, BSR, and SE To explore business social entrepreneurship, a theoretical framework defining business social entrepreneur (BSE) is constructed from the overlap of the characteristics and definitions of sustainable community development (SCD), business social responsibility (BSR) and social entrepreneurship (SE) (Figure 1).

Sustainable community development is a "group of people acting together, to enhance the social, economic, environmental and spiritual fabric of their community in order to improve their quality of life" (Centre for Livable Communities, n.d.: 1).

Business social responsibility is defined as:
"[r]esponsible business practices respect and preserve the natural environment. Helping to improve the quality and opportunities of life, they [socially responsible businesses] empower people and invest in communities where a business operates" (BSR, 2002: 2).

A socially responsible business is one that produces socially desirable products in a socially desirable manner (Shocker and Sethi, 1973). The term socially responsible indicates that socially responsible businesses "must advance the health and well-being of those it affects (individuals, companies, the environment). Not undercut them" (Singer, 2001: 61). Finally, social entrepreneurship "combines the passion of a social mission with a business-like approach to the marketplace" (NCSE, 2001: 1).

Overlapping these characteristics defined and characterized a business social entrepreneur (BSE). A business social entrepreneur is: A person operating a local business who integrates the core ideology of sustainability and a triple bottom line ethic through creative socially responsible action; who has an interdependent relationship with the community to sustainably develop and contribute to community over the long term; and who tackles community social needs through entrepreneurial initiatives. The characteristics were narrowed from a BSE profile to BSE criteria. A combination of these BSE criteria describes the essence of a business social entrepreneur.

1) Values Driven: Business social entrepreneurs operate in the overlapping circles of sustainability by integrating triple bottom line mechanisms into their socially responsible business operations.

2) Works toward building sustainable community: Business social entrepreneurs take a bottom-up approach to proactively make a positive contribution to enhancing a community's quality of life. They do so through tackling local community social issues, by actively engaging and having interdependent relationships with the community, and valuing collective community wisdom and community well-being.

3) Entrepreneur - in spirit and business: Business social entrepreneurs use entrepreneurial initiatives to make a positive difference in the community.

Case Studies
The BSE criteria were applied to four Calgary businesses to illustrate how the ideas of a business social entrepreneur are put into practice. Abbreviated versions of each case study can be found in the case study summary.

Synthesizing case study material
Synthesizing the information from the case studies created common business social entrepreneur themes:

Integratie messages of sustainability
Motivation beyond profit
Undefined process of becoming a BSE
Ownership of business eases integration of BSE actions
Challenge of being a BSE
Lack of networking among other BSEs
Meeting sustainability and BSE criteria to varying degrees
BSEs acting as sustainability educators
Lack of social strategy documentation

The intervention component of this MDP consists of making recommendations to the Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (CCSE) suggesting actions to support business social entrepreneurs and to develop the field of business social entrepreneurship. The first recommendation is to create a BSE network. This network would have the benefit of BSEs gathering as a group to share best practices and support one another. The second recommendation is for the CCSE to integrate BSE theory and practice into university classrooms in order to challenge business students to creatively generate profit while benefiting society and to introduce the BSE concept at the initial stages of business development. The third recommendation is to publish and disseminate the materials from this MDP to the field of social entrepreneurship. This recommendation would enable the CCSE to fill the gap in the literature concerning social entrepreneurship practices in the for-profit sector. These recommendations have real-life practicality since they are supported by the CCSE and address select CCSE goals and common business social entrepreneur themes.

All Rights Reserved.
Copyright, 2002

email for permission
to use all or part of this master's degree project