June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
23.217.1 - 23.217.13
Helping People Living in Poverty? Understanding Factors Motivating Social EntrepreneurshipAbstractIncreasingly, engineering educators look to increase the social relevance of engineering designactivities. The emergence of social businesses has sparked interest in creating programs thatteach engineers about social entrepreneurship. Social businesses are viable business ventureswhere businesses adopt a social mission. Some strategists view social businesses as ways tocapture market share in countries that have a large emerging consumer class, such as India andBrazil. These strategists speak of finding “the fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” and targetconsumers earning less than 4USD/day. Other strategists view social businesses as directpathways for poverty alleviation. These strategists contend that businesses focused on meetingpeople’s needs can create a world without poverty. The purpose of this paper is to ask howengineering education programs teaching social entrepreneurship construct definitions of socialentrepreneurship to motivate students.This paper asks the following questions: 1) What do engineering educators define social entrepreneurship? 2) How do emerging social businesses explain the organization’s motivations? 3) How have these definitions and motivations shifted over time?This paper uses multimodal discourse analysis to explore how different business strategies affectengineering education programs teaching social entrepreneurship. Multimodal discourse analysisallows researchers to connect rhetoric used in problem-definition to the real-world businessactivities of organizations. The researcher selected two distinct engineering education programsteaching social entrepreneurship in the United States to highlight as case studies. Both programshave existed for more than five years, making it possible to explore how discourse within theprogram has shifted over time.The results of this research can inform student recruitment, program design, and potentialorganizational partnerships. Preliminary results indicate that engineering programs began byemphasizing high-volume products geared towards meeting basic needs. Later, engineeringprograms teaching social entrepreneurship began to emphasize capturing market share inemerging consumer markets. Although data analysis is continuing, these engineering programsdo not appear to require students to think deeply about the nature of poverty itself.
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015