Friday’s Thoughts: Breaking the Sectoral Straight-Jacket

The debate about social enterprise is helping us break free from the sectoral straightjacket represented by singular attention to traditional non-profit organisations, and to think in terms of a variety of organisational vehicles that can accomplish various social aims. It is also helping us understand the increasingly hybrid character of non-profit organisations themselves, and the networks and partnerships in which non-profits are involved.

That said, I do not believe social enterprise is simply a substitute form for traditional non-profits, nor even a single organisational type. Moreover, I do not think the study of social enterprise requires or benefits from a narrowly confining fence separating ventures that can be defined as social enterprises, and those that cannot. I understand the desire for clean definitions, but for social enterprise, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

-Dennis Young, “Three schools define social philanthropy debate, says professor,” 9/25/2012