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2022/2023  KAN-CSIEO2022U  Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

English Title
Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Mandatory (also offered as elective)
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Fourth Quarter, Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Social Sciences
Course coordinator
  • Lena Olaison - Department of Business Humanities and Law
  • Paola Raffaelli - Department of Business Humanities and Law
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Innovation
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 31-01-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
  • Analyze social entrepreneurial processes, in particular in relation to one of the course challenges.
  • Use the concepts and tools seen in the course to identify the elements that need to be considered to develop and strengthen entrepreneurial initiatives aiming at social change.
  • Explain and defend a position on issues concerning the social entrepreneurial process in situations that are yet unsettled by research.
  • Use the theoretical perspectives discussed in the course as a means of deciding questions involved in social entrepreneurial initiatives.
Prerequisites for registering for the exam (activities during the teaching period)
Number of compulsory activities which must be approved (see section 13 of the Programme Regulations): 1
Compulsory home assignments
There will be a mid-course evaluation based on a group assignment for class. This is graded approved/not approved. A passing grade on the group’s mid-course evaluation is a prerequisite for taking the individual exam.

Please note that if a student does not hand in the compulsory assignment, there will be no further tries, and the student will not have access to the ordinary exam.

Nevertheless, if the compulsory assignment is not approved, or if the student is ill (documented), he or she will have a second try before the ordinary exam.
Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Social entrepreneurship has acquired the proportions of a world-wide movement. From micro-finance institutions to youth houses, fair trade shops and community-based art collectives, a wide range of initiatives are focusing their efforts on addressing the big social challenges in today’s world. There is however no agreement on the definition nor on the nature of the phenomenon that is being called “social entrepreneurship”. Yet, this variety of initiatives seem to have one thing in common: the willingness to achieve social change. The core of this course is social change through the parallel notion of social innovation. In other words, we will critically look at innovation and entrepreneurship as particular forms of organising for social transformations.


Some of the questions that we will explore throughout the course are:

How should we think when designing initiatives aiming at social change? What conceptual and practical tools can be used in our strive to improve the lives of people and the health of our communities? How can the social be re-articulated in our efforts to catalyse social change? How can we assess the effectiveness of these initiatives?


In sum, in this course we will be looking at rationalities, strategies and tools aiming at fostering environmental and social sustainability. For that purpose, we will be using the intellectual tools handed to us by the social sciences to both understand the phenomena of social innovation and entrepreneurship and apply them to the design of social entrepreneurial ventures.


This course is project based: It will be centered on a social innovation project that students co-create. First, because the most effective way to understand social innovation and entrepreneurship is to practice it. Second, because the course aims to promote a creative and proactive stance toward the society you live in, not merely an adaptive or critical one.


Since the notion of "social change" is quite general, each year the course develops around specific societal challenges. This year we are working with two challenges. The first chosen challenge is the need to combine environmental sustainability with social sustainability. In fact, sustainability is often understood as the need to preserve natural ecosystems and reduce our impact on the environment. This, however, is only one part of the story: sustainability is a multidimensional concept and it entails the need to develop socio-economic practices that are just and fair in respect not only towards the environment, but also towards the human communities involved and affected by these socio-economic practices.The second challenge is current Covid-19 pandemic. We see the consequences of this global pandemic unfolding in manifold ways, creating social and economic challenges for many. While we might not be able to foresee all long-term consequences, it is important that we start addressing the arising problems at concrete points with innovative solutions. 


This course appeals to students with a strong desire to become social innovators, work in a social startup, or in a social entrepreneurial minded company now or later in their careers. It is also for those students who are considering obtaining jobs in international institutions, sustainability management, social venture capital, starting a cooperative or a non-profit organization/association. 


Finally, this course takes an experiential approach and students are expected to interact with the social change sector, participate in class discussion, and be active participants in the teaching/learning process. Topics will include exploring the problem you want to address, assessing the opportunity, acknowledging the implicit theory of change, considering the project's organisational form and pitching your initiative.


Description of the teaching methods
The course will take place in a blended format, combining online and offline teaching and learning elements. Within this format, it will include a variety of methods ranging from lectures, group discussions, project work, teaching cases, guest lectures and Studio-based pedagogy.
Feedback during the teaching period
From teacher to student:

- Students will be given feedback on their group projects on the basis of regular hand-ins. Moreover, lecturers will organize "open office" afternoons during which students will have the opportunity to get feedback and support in relation to their ongoing project work.

- Office hours will be available on a regular basis during the entire duration of the course.

From student to student:

- Discussion groups will be organised in class according to the nature of student projects. This to open the possibility for students to given feedback to each others' ongoing work.

Self-reflection on the learning process:

- When challenging and complex concepts will be introduced, students will be given the opportunity to talk in groups to discuss and reflect on the meaning of such concepts.
Student workload
Course activities (including preparation) 206 hours
Exam (including exam preparation) 4 hours
Expected literature

Below, some of the suggested readings (the complete reading list will be uploaded on Canvas before the course begins):


Avelino, F., Monticelli, L. and Wittmayer, J.M. 2019. How transformative innovation movements contribute to transitions. In: Howaldt, J., Kaletka, C., Schroder, A. and Zirngiebl, M. (eds.)Atlas of Social Innovation: 2nd Volume – A World of new Practices. Munich: oekom Verlag GmbH.


Brest, P. 2010. The power of theories of change. Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Brown, T. 2008. Design Thinking. Harvard Business Review.


Brown, T. & Wyatt, J. 2010. Design Thinking for Social Innovation. Stanford Social Innovation Review.


Ebrahim, A., Battilana, J. & Mair, J. 2014. The governance of social enterprises: Mission drift and accountability challenges in hybrid organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior 34: 81-100.


Garud, R., Schildt, H.A. and Lant, T.K. 2014. Entrepreneurial storytelling, future expectations and the paradox of legitimacy. Organization Science, 25(5), 1479-1492.

IDEO: Human Centered Design Toolkit - Method instructions for social entrepreneurs (with detailed method cards). Available via: https:/​/​www.designkit.org/​resources/​1/​.


Kania J. & Kramer M. 2011. Collective Impact. Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Kirsch, V., Bildner, J. & Walker, J. 2016. Why Social Ventures Need Systems Thinking. Harvard Business Review. 


Lakoff, G. 2004. “Preface: Reframing is Social Change”. In: Lakoff, G. 2004. Don't Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, pp.xv-xvi. Chelsea Green Publishing.


Papi, D. 2017. Reclaiming Social Entrepreneurship. TED Talk. [video] Available via: https:/​/​youtu.be/​RdrfMqBRfEQ.


Parmar, B. 2012. How to better frame problems. Darden Business Publishing.

Pentland, A. 2012. The new science of building great teams. Harvard Business Review, 90(4), 60-69.


Snow, D.A. et al, 1986. Frame Alignment Processes, Micromobilization, and Movements Participation. American Sociological Review, 51(4):464-481.


Sparviero, S. 2019. The Case for a Socially Oriented Business Model Canvas: The Social Enterprise Model Canvas. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 10(2), 232-251.


Staszewska, B.M. 2017. Business Model Development for Stability, Sustainability, and Resilience. In: West, L.L. and Worthington, A. Handbook of Research on Emerging Business Models and Managerial Strategies in the Nonprofit Sector. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.


Thornton, P.H. and Ocasio, W. 2008. Institutional Logics. In: Greenwood, R., Oliver, C., Lawrence, T.B. and Meyer, R.E. (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Organziational Institutionalism. Sage Publications Ltd.


Toegel, G. & Barsoux, J.L. 2016 How to pre-empt team conflict. Harvard Business Review, 79-83.





Last updated on 31-01-2023