In Research


Year: 2022
Published in: Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Cited as: Teasdale, Simon, Enrico Bellazzecca, Anne de Bruin, and Michael J. Roy. “The (r) evolution of the social entrepreneurship concept: A critical historical review.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly (2022): 08997640221130691.


Social entrepreneurship, Critical historical review, Bibliometric analysis, Meta-analysis


The contested concept of social entrepreneurship has gained particular prominence in academic literature over the last few decades. To explore how patterns of understandings relating to social entrepreneurship have emerged and shifted over time, we undertook a critical historical review focusing on the most highly cited social entrepreneurship articles in each of five time periods over the last 30 years. We identify four thematic areas—conceptualization, theoretical approaches, the search for data, and social change outcomes—characteristic of each period, allowing us to plot the terrain of social entrepreneurship scholarship over time. We show how patterns emerge across these themes over time and relate our analysis to wider developments in the field. In concluding, we discuss how the concept has been theoretically and conceptually enriched by an ability to accommodate critique.