Soci(et)al Entrepreneurship:The Shaping of a Different Story of Entrepreneurship

Karin Berglund, Caroline Wigren


The interest in societal forms of entrepreneurship has increased in recent decades, emphasizing different kinds of prefixed such as “social” “ecological”, “sustainable”, “regional”. In this article societal and social is at stake. Taking a point of departure in the prefix stories of entrepreneurship we read a wish to break with the grand narrative of entrepreneurship as well as attempts to feed into and draw legitimacy from the grand narrative. In this article we take a point of departure in an initiative taken in Sweden to introduce and finance a program labeled “Societal entrepreneurship”. The purpose is to create knowledge about, as well as conditions for, initiatives aiming at improving what is missing or does not work in public structures, and finding new and innovative solutions in order to create an economically, socially and ecologically sustainable society. Applying Burke’s pentad it is illustrated that the grand narrative of entrepreneurship consists of the heroic entrepreneur (agent) who creates a kingdom (act) by way of establishing a company (agency) on the market in order to make a profit and contribute to growth (purpose). Applying the concept of Tamara, introduced by Boje, it is further illustrated how the grand narrative of entrepreneurship emphasizes capitalism, rationality and hierarchy in line with the epoch of industrialization, whilst the antenarrative of societal entrepreneurship gives priority to both premodern and postmodern discourses. The importance of community, of non-economic values, artisan craftsmanship is stressed, but also of how societal structures must be changed. The story of societal entrepreneurship thus de-centers human agency seeking to create instability as well as openings for enactment.


Societal entrepreneurship; Grand narrative; Antenarrative; Burkes pentad; Tamara; Refix versions of entrepreneurship

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