picture of j. robnson jeffrey a. robinson, ph.d.

assistant professor and senior fellow
the center for urban entrepreneurship & economic development
rutgers business school
management and global business department
1 washington park
newark, new jersey  07102

social entrepreneurship research and practice

the center for urban entrepreneurship & economic development (cueed), launched in 2008, is an inter- and multidisciplinary research center whose mission is to build a world-class research-driven, education and practitioner-oriented, urban entrepreneurship and economic development program that will transform the economy of the city of newark, new jersey, and other urban centers; create wealth in urban communities; and be a model for all urban universities. at the core of its operating model is collaboration among rutgers business school, the school of public affairs and administration, and rutgers law school-newark.  additionally, cueed collaborates with multiple units within and across the campuses of rutgers university.

the center conducts research, education and economic development initiatives around five areas of study:  urban entrepreneurship (wealth creation, business development, community entrepreneurship, job creation);  technology entrepreneurship (technology transfer, technology commercialization, incubators, technology clusters, leveraging university patents, green business);  social entrepreneurship (social problems solving, social purpose businesses, social investments, green ventures);  international entrepreneurship (institutions and entrepreneurial activity in developing nations, entrepreneurship towards economic development); economic development (urban institutions and development, economic development and emerging economies).

recent programs and activities

rutgers faculty and the center have been engaged in promoting social entrepreneurship during the 2008-2009 school year.  professor robinson and his colleagues recently released the book, international perspective on social entrepreneurship (palgrave 2009) which is a collection of papers from the international social entrepreneurship research conference.  in march, 2009, the center for urban entrepreneurship and economic development, hosted a panel discussion on social entrepreneurship in collaboration with the hip hop association.  more than 70 students and community members attended to learn about social ventures in the greater newark area.  during the 2008-2009, two 1-credit first year seminars were created to expose students coming to the university to the ideas of social business and social entrepreneurship.  forty undergraduate students explored the principles of social entrepreneurship in two different first year seminars on our new brunswick campus. the center has recently approved the establishment of two new courses, one at the graduate- and one at the undergraduate-level.  these activities and faculty efforts serve as a good foundation for future activities related to social entrepreneurship at rutgers.
for more about the global social venture research conference, 19-23 november, 2009, click here.

promoting social entrepreneurship in the state of new jersey

revitalizing inner city communities involves addressing both economic and social issues.  sustaining this economic progress while attensding to the serious social problems of unemployment, poverty, high crime levels, homelessness, sub-standard educational systems and the public health issues that exist in these communities is an on-going challenge.  fresh approaches to these issues are important signs of progress.  social entrepreneurs and social ventures are already making a difference in the cities of newark and newark, new jersey where rutgers has a significant footprint.

we define social entrepreneurship as a form of entrepreneurship that integrates social goals and social problem solving into its core business and operational model.  the se approach for urban areas can be summarized as sustainable economic activity that also makes a social impact.  traditional entrepreneurship does not intentionally seek to create social value or social impact.  therefore, the business model of social entrepreneurial ventures (or social ventures) simultaneously creates economic and social value.

we see social entrepreneurship as a different approach to organizing the new venture that emerges from the changing roles and boundaries of the public, voluntary, and private sectors in addressing social ills. it can be an effective approach where innovative methods for addressing social issues can have long lasting impacts.  the uniqueness of social entrepreneurship is that it offers a better use of the two elements underlying the existing approaches, namely stimulating economic development that stems from within the underprivileged area and creatively addressing social issues.

from our perspective, social entrepreneurship has four elements that form our guiding principles for the kind of social entrepreneurship we promote and encourage.

social impact. does the venture make a significant social impact? social impact is a key element of a social venture.  what issue or problem is the venture being set up to address?  how a social venture makes the impact and where it wants to make the impacts are important strategic decisions.  a social venture can make impact at different levels (e.g. community, local, regional, national) or with varying degrees of depth (e.g. intermediary, service provider, employer, or instructor). 

social innovation. is the venture using a new approach to addressing the social/environmental issue? social ventures break new ground, pioneer new approaches, or develop new models.  these ventures need to creatively navigate the economic, social, and institutional barriers to addressing the social need.  social entrepreneurs develop new approaches to addressing social problems or utilize technology to facilitate problem solving. 

sustainability. is this venture financially viable?  is this venture positioned to fulfill its mission over the long-term? a sustainable social venture is financially viable and positioned to fulfill its mission.  many social ventures are not sustainable because they rely upon unstable grant-making or government institutions for their funding. alternatively, earned-income or fee-for-service business model are generally more effective strategies for social ventures.  some social ventures are not sustainable because they have not organized their internal resources effectively to fulfill their mission.  how a social venture marshals its resources to be sustainable is an important strategic decision that often separates traditional non-profit organizations from social entrepreneurship.

measurement. how does this venture measure its social impact and evaluate success?  are the measurement tools appropriate for this type of venture? measurement and evaluation are essential to social entrepreneurship. in addition to the financial metrics used by traditional ventures, social ventures must measure their impact and evaluate its effectiveness.  there are many ways to measure and evaluate the social impact of a venture.  the key is that the social venture is using an appropriate type of measurement tool that is in line with their theory of change.


the new jersey social entrepreneurship summit

the purpose of this summit was to raise the profile of social entrepreneurship in new jersey by bringing leaders of the social sector and entrepreneurs who address social and environmental problems in their businesses together to learn from and support one another. we are particularly interested in bringing together leaders who are tackling these social and environmental issues in new jersey and encouraging these social entrepreneurs or would-be social entrepreneurs to use innovative, sustainable, and profitable business ventures and social impact organizations as their vehicle for long-term change.
for more about the njsii , click njsesummit.org.

you can also visit the njsocent youtube channel for video clips from the event.
follow this , click link.

the new jersey social innovation institute

njsii the new jersey social innovation institute (njsii)is a training program for social innovators and enterprising non-profit organizations developing business plans and investment proposals for new social businesses enterprises. special consideration will be given to proposals that are significant job creators for new jersey residents. the objective of the first statewide social innovation institute is to empower new social entrepreneurs to develop their venture ideas. as we encourage and prepare these new social entrepreneurs we are laying the ground work for job creation in our state. after applications are reviewed, 12-16 teams of social entrepreneurs will take part in a six (6) month initiative that includes social entrepreneurship training, mentoring and technical assistance in partnership with the support center for nonprofit management and the new jersey department of labor. specifically, the initiative will:

provide training, mentoring and technical assistance to participants in the initiative.
facilitate networking with potential investors, experienced business leaders and individual entrepreneurs who are interested engaging in social venture initiatives in new jersey
develop actionable business plans and investment proposals for local and national foundations and social investors
support the efforts of nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs who are actively engaged in social and environmental problem solving through enterprise especially through job creation.

after the training periods, further consulting and assistance will be provided by business student teams at rutgers business school and from volunteers from pseg. the list of partners represents an unprecedented level of cooperation towards the impact new jersey's economy:

pseg is committing to the institute meeting space, in-kind services and skills-based volunteers to work with the participants in the institute.

the support center for nonprofit management has agreed to coordinate and provide technical assistance and coaching to the social ventures that are formed through the institute.

the nj department of labor and workforce development is committing resources to support the job creation efforts of the participants in the institute.

rutgers business school will provide training for the institute and student teams to work with the participants in the business planning process.

for more information on this research initiative please contact professor robinson at cueed at business.rutgers.edu for more about the njsii, click here.


updated october 19, 2011            contact info (at) jeffreyrobinsonphd.com                   back to  dissertation  research    home

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