In Research


Year: 2018
Published in: Journal of Small Business Management, 56: 251-273.
Cited as: Sassmannshausen, S. P., & Volkmann, C. 2018. The scientometrics of social entrepreneurship and its establishment as an academic field. Journal of Small Business Management, 56: 251-273.


This paper provides an overview of the state of art of research on social entrepreneurship and the establishment of this topic in the academic world. It uses scientometric methods in measuring the maturity of social entrepreneurship research. The empirical part reveals the exponentially growing number of papers, the institutionalization of social entrepreneurship in seven dimensions, the emergence of thematic clusters, and methodological issues. The paper makes concrete suggestions on how to overcome methodological challenges. Furthermore, we provide a ranking of the 22 most cited academic contributions in social entrepreneurship. Surprisingly, almost half of the most cited papers have not been published in journals but in books, raising doubts about the current (over‐)rating of journal publications.


Visit the journal website to see access options for this document.

Recommendations from this resource

Future Research

1) More comparative or contrastive case collections, theoretical sampling methods, and case collection steered by theoretical saturation is needed instead of the current dominant presentation of single cases or of random and very small numbers of cases.
2) Qualitative approaches in future social entrepreneurship research should improve theoretical quality and exploratory power by investing more effort in methodology than current approaches have done.
3) Developing quantitative measurement instruments in social entrepreneurship is one of the most current research challenges. It is time to develop a scale to test for social entrepreneurship itself.
4) More quantitative research that goes beyond descriptive approaches, a clear theoretical construct is needed, based on items that can be object to objective empirical measurements on defined scales.
5) A breakthrough would then allow the incorporation of contextual variables or even the contextualization of empirical social entrepreneurship research in a second step. Context might play an important role, particularly in social entrepreneurship and the activities of social entrepreneurs, which often seem to be inspired by certain contexts.