Thursday, June 08, 2006

THE 2006 SKOLL WORLD FORUM ON SOCIAL entrepreneurship, part 1.5

In Part 1 of this review of the 2006 Skoll World Forum On Social Entrepreneurship I bemoaned the sometimes open hostility displayed by a number of delegates towards entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Rowena Young (Director, Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship) seems to suggest that the root of this scorn is ideological. I think she's right.

More than a few of the delegates I met were self-described political activists, and it's my guess that a substantial majority of these activists identified with Forum moderator Stan Thekaekara's openly stated left-wing sympathies. Do not infer that I am critical of Thekaekara or his politics. His comments were offered, I believe, in a spirit of honest and full disclosure rather than political advocacy. Nonetheless, such leanings may explain why some Skoll Forum delegates have had difficulty accepting Young's social entrepreneurship formula: 'Seeking profits and doing good are compatible'. In fairness, I've noticed that those on both the hard left and the hard right stumble over Young's formula, but, of course, for different reasons.

My own plea would be that next years delegates check their ideology, activism and prejudice (left or right) at the door, and focus instead on learning how we can best yoke the power of entrepreneurship to social and humanitarian ends. This will not happen so long as evidence is sifted through ideology. The words of Jeffrey Pfeffer (Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Psychology at the Stanford Graduate School of Business) and Robert I. Sutton (Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford's School of Engineering) in the Spring 2006 Stanford Social Innovation Review ring true:

Learning is difficult when people are driven by ideology rather than evidence.

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Anonymous Chris Jordan said...

It seems, from this post Tom, that the difficulties encountered in building the NTC initiative are echoed throughout the world of SE.

There would appear to be a certain level of political hijacking of this concept, just as with any other new idea(l).

All the same it seems that all attention is productive, provided we protect the pure thinking which drives us forward.

Thanks for the information Tom!

1:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom
This is a fantastic post!
I am planning to attend the Skoll forum 2008. Before attending this forum it would be great if I can get in touch with you.
please mail me priyankpatwa AT

12:22 pm  

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