Pogledaj Full Version : Civic Entrepreneurship: A Dynamic Concept

Željko Zidarić
27th-May-2012, 11:17 PM
Tim Glynn Burke • June 9th, 2011 (http://socialinnovation.ash.harvard.edu/civic-entrepreneurship-a-dynamic-concept)

In our research we found that a number of leading thinkers, beginning at least over a decade ago, had been using the term civic entrepreneurship in their work. Interestingly, it meant something slightly different to each.

Doug Henton, John Melville and Kimberly Walesh described civic entrepreneurship in a 1999 article as helping communities develop and organize their economic assets and to build productive, resilient relationships across the public, private, and civil sectors. The common traits that they listed as shared among civic entrepreneurs all relate to collaboration and to business acumen. To Henton et al., the term “combines two important American traditions: entrepreneurship—the spirit of enterprise, and civic virtue—the spirit of community.”[i]

Around the same time, the Pew Partnership for Civic Change mobilized more than 600 latent community leaders from across the country.[ii] The event, called the Pew Civic Entrepreneur Initiative, selected and trained individuals who were well connected in their communities but outside the traditional civic leadership.

In their after-action report, Suzanne W. Morse wrote “The overarching goal…was equipping new leaders to take action in their communities. This remains the biggest challenge of a participatory democracy: How do you motivate and equip diverse citizens to work together on behalf of the community?” The 600 alumni went on to become elected officials, nonprofit managers, and mentors to a new generation of civic leaders.

And in their 1998 book Civic Entrepreneurship, Charles Leadbeater and Sue Goss describe civic entrepreneurship as distinct from social or business entrepreneurship due to its political and collaborative nature. Civic entrepreneurship—by which they refer exclusively to innovation coming from government—can mean inventing a new service or product, creating the space for others to innovate, or seeking to grow and “exploit the greatest social value” from a new idea.[iii]

Leadbeater and Goss provide a number of important elements for successful civic entrepreneurship. These include the ability, especially of senior management to understand the complexity of the contexts in which they work and a willingness to take risks and encourage entrepreneurship; risk sharing through collaboration and partnership; building support and legitimacy with the public, from managers and from clients—what Leadbeater and Goss call “the time consuming process of winning consent for change”; and engaging in organizational and cultural change.

Each of the above took a different perspective on civic entrepreneurship. For Hinton et al, it was community and economic development. For Pew it was community engagement. And for Leadbeater and Goss, it was creating social value from within the public sector.

In The Power of Social Innovation, Stephen Goldsmith wrote about civic entrepreneurship with a slightly broader lens, in some ways one that encompasses all of the above: driving innovation and change in all types of social problem solving from within government, philanthropy, business, or the nonprofit sector. The goal of civic entrepreneurship is to improve how communities address community development issues like poverty and housing as well as the many other social challenges they face. Engaging citizens in their own progress, and their community’s progress, is a major theme.

“Over time I realized not only the extent of the obstacles preventing diffusion of a good idea,” Goldsmith wrote, “but that real change requires more than scaling a single organization. These discoveries led us to focus on civic entrepreneurship….We use the term intentionally to underscore one of our major assumptions: that a leader in any sector can spark innovation and social progress.”

Does “civic entrepreneurship” mean something significant to you in your own work? In what way do you normally identify or describe your work?

[i]Douglas Henton, John Melville, & Kimberly Walesh. Civic Entrepreneurs: Economic Professional as Collaborative Leader. Community Economics Newsletter. No. 269, March 1999. From Center for Community Economic Development; Community, Natural Resource and Economic Development Programs, and University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension Service. Available online at http://www.aae.wisc.edu/pubs/cenews/docs/ce269.txt.

[ii] Pew Partnership for Civic Change. Crafting a New Design for Civic Leadership: A Pew Civic Entrepreneur Initiative Report. University of Richmond, 2002.

[iii] Charles Leadbeater and Sue Goss. Civic Entrepreneurship. London: Demos, 1998. (View in Google Books)