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I first came across Peter Söderbaum’s work when I was writing my master thesis. The topic was entrepreneurs who did not act according to the mainstream interpretation of entrepreneurship. By doing in-depth interviews with a number of companies I learned about the logic of running a business not for the sole purpose of making profit but for reasons such as self-fullfillment, producing critical design, asking questions about social development and contributing to a more environmentally sustainable direction for society, among other things. All this was accomplished through traditional company forms, and the entrepreneurs did not at alla think of themselves as ’social entrepreneurs’; although profit making was not their primary objective, they did not in any way reject possibilities to earn money. While working with ’my’ companies and at the same time discussing with academics in my department I came to realize that they represented a phenomenon that had not previously been noted in the mainstream academic discourse on entrepreneurship.A good example of this kind of ’alternative’ entrepreneurship is the Swedish corporation DEM collective. DEM manufactures t-shirts and other clothings in a social- and environmentally sustainable way. The purpose of DEM collective is not to generate shareholder value but to prove it possible to manufacture clothes in a low wage country (Sri Lanka, in this case) and also pay fair wages, only use organic cotton and consider the environmental impact of every step of the production. The ambition is ”to effect a paradigmatic shift in the corporate world”.

Using the terminology of Söderbaum, this kind of ’alternative’ entrepreneurs could be descibed as following their ideological orientation; they are political economic persons, in contrast to the ’economic man’ kind of business leader who always, in one way or another, puts profits first. They see that costs and benefits are more than just monetary values and they want to incorporate this into their businesses.

Mainstream entreprenuership research, discourse and practice is heavily influenced by neoclassical economics: corporations aim at increasing monetary values. This is a fact so much taken for granted it is seldom spoken out loud. In business incubators and other policy initiatives supporting entrepreneurship for instance, it is considered self-evident that each company strives to attract venture capital or other forms of investment in order to be able to grow, and, generally speaking, investors  neglect social- and environmental costs and benefits in their calculations. Companies that would rather consider social- or environmental costs and benefits will then naturally face difficulties to attract capital, to grow or to even realize their ideas.

I believe it is essential to create an infrastructure that can support a variety of ways to run a business, and not just through what is known as social entrepreneurship, an activity that largely takes place outside the ’true’ nature of entrepreneurship. The good thing is that these companies do exist, the question is how they can become more numerous.

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