Social Entrepreneurship

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Course Date: 08 September 2014 to 20 October 2014 (6 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

Join us and learn how to develop, test, and deploy high-impact solutions to society's toughest challenges.

Estimated Workload: 3-4 hours/week

Course Instructors

Ian MacMillan

Ian C. MacMillan is the Academic Director of the Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Center and Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of Entrepreneurial Management.  He also taught at Columbia University, Northwestern University and NYU. He received his BSc (Chemical Engineering) . from the University of Witwatersrand, and his Master’s and Doctorate in Management from the University of South Africa.


Prior to joining the academic world, Mac was a chemical engineer, and gained experience in gold and uranium mines, chemical and explosives factories, oil refineries, soap and food manufacturers, and the South African Atomic Energy Board.  He has been a director of companies in the travel, import/export and pharmaceutical businesses in the USA, South Africa, Canada, Hong Kong, and Japan.  Mac  has extensive consulting experience, having worked with such companies as Merck, Microsoft, Air Products, DuPont, General Electric, GTE, IBM, Citibank, Chubb & Son, American Re-Insurance, Texas Instruments, Novell, Westcon,  Fluor Daniel, Seagate Technologies, Matsushita/Panasonic  (Japan), Olympus (Japan), L.G.Chem (Korea), KPMG (UK) and Commercial Union General Insurance (UK).


Mac has published articles and books on new ventures, innovation organizational politics and strategy formulation.  His articles have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, The Sloan Management Review, The Journal of Business Venturing, and othersHe is co-author of the best-selling books Corporate Venturing,  The Entrepreneurial Mindset, which focuses on how managers and entrepreneurs can create a continuous stream of growth opportunities for their firms, MarketBusters, which focuses on strategies firms can use to dramatically change their existing businesses, Unlocking Opportunities for Growth, which provides guidelines for selecting, valuing and pursuing highly uncertain but high potential growth opportunities, and Discovery Driven Growth which focuses on how to use incremental, game-changing and radical innovation to grow the value of the company. His most recent book “The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook” focuses on how to create Social enterprises that generate profits while reducing social stress for target beneficiary populations.




James Thompson

James D. Thompson, is coauthor of "The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook" and co-founder and director of the Wharton Social Entrepreneurship Program.

His current research is focused on social entrepreneurship, future market growth, and investment under conditions of high uncertainty.  He teaches in Wharton Executive Education programs and works with management teams around the world to design and execute organic growth strategies that increase the value of their firms.

Prior to joining the academic world, he was a divisional director of a public company, responsible for business unit turnarounds and new market development. He currently serves on the executive board of a venture capital–funded company in Philadelphia.

James holds a PhD from The Swiss Institute of Technology (EPFL) and is published in the Harvard Business Review, Journal of Management, Long Range Planning, Management Science, Organization Science, and the Research-Technology Management Journal. He is a recipient of a Best Paper Award in the Entrepreneurship Division of the U.S. Academy of Management.

Peter Frumkin

Peter Frumkin is Professor of Social Policy and Director of the Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership Program, and Faculty Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, all at the University of Pennsylvania. His research and teaching focus on nonprofit strategy, philanthropy, and social entrepreneurship. Frumkin is the author of On Being Nonprofit (Harvard University Press, 2002),Strategic Giving: The Art and Science of Philanthropy (University of Chicago Press, 2006), and The Essence of Strategic Giving: A Practical Guide for Donors and Fundraisers (University of Chicago Press, 2010). He is co-author of Serving Country and Community (Harvard University Press, 2010) and The Strategic Management of Charter Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2011). This spring, a new book, Building for the Arts: The Strategic Design of Cultural Facilities, will be published by the University of Chicago Press. It considers the many challenges that museum, theaters and performing arts centers face when they undertake ambitious capital construction projects.

Prior to coming to Penn, Frumkin was Professor of Public Affairs and Director of the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin. He has taught at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and served as a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. Frumkin received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Course Description

Social entrepreneurs and social innovators are tackling and diminishing many of the world's problems. They achieve significant positive social impact through the creative and aggressive mobilization of people and other resources.

In Africa, a social entrepreneur built an enterprise which delivers 70 million daily protein servings into the region at significantly lower cost and at higher quality than before.  In India, rice husks are being burned to generate power enabling families to live, read, and learn after the sun goes down. In Latin America makeshift informal housing is being converted from fire-trap shanties into safe, concrete-based homes.

This course will cover a select set of topics associated with social innovation and entrepreneurship whether nonprofit or for-profit. Students will be able to choose their level of engagement by selecting either the open track, or the signature track. Students in the open track will master a set of strategy and planning tools essential for social innovation success. Students in the signature track will work throughout the term on a plan for an organization that they wish to create and will receive feedback from the course team.

By taking this course you will share in our combined 45 years of social entrepreneurship experience, and you will learn how to:

  1. Launch social entrepreneurship projects which have high-potential of significant positive social impact,
  2. Direct energy and limited resources to efficiently launching those projects with the most promise,
  3. Apply tools and frameworks to testing and scaling your own social enterprise.


Students in the signature track who complete the course at a high level will be eligible to apply for a full scholarship to the Penn Social Impact House, where 20 of the best emerging social entrepreneurs from around the world will gather in a live/work environment for two weeks to work under the guidance of leading experts and practitioners on the development of their ideas (link to PSIH to provided by Cosmo).


Week One: What is Social Entrepreneurship? What is Social Innovation?

Key Concepts:

  • Targeting problems
  • Design thinking
  • Entrepreneurial solutions

Week Two: Solution Design

Key Concepts:

  • Population segmentation
  • Logic Models
  • Beneficiary Experience
  • Behavioral Change

Week Three: Competitive Analysis and Concept Testing

Key Concepts:

  • Screening in and screening out criteria
  • Competing alternatives
  • Concept testing

Week Four: Performance Measurement

Key Concepts:

  • Performance Scorecards
  • Defining Success
  • Balancing Social Impact and Financial goals
  • Costing

Week Five: Organization Form and Pilot

Key Concepts:

  • Choosing a form
  • Stakeholder Analysis
  • Identifying assumptions

Week Six: Establishing Checkpoints, Building for Scale, and Pitching

Key Concepts:

  • Concepts of scale
  • Scale up and scale up challenges
  • Pitching your idea


Video Lectures, Readings, Case Examples, Assignments, Choice of Teamwork and Forum Participation.

Suggested Reading

Readings will be available on the site on a week by week basis.

You may want to read the following titles before and during the class:

  1. MacMillan & Thompson, The Social Entrepreneur’s PlaybookNote: Book worksheets can be downloaded for free here: The Social Entrepreneur's Playbook (workbook)

  2. Bornstein and Davis, Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know

  3. Dees, J. Gregory, Enterprising Nonprofits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs

  4. Guo and Bielefeld, Social Entrepreneurship

Course Workload

3-4 hours/week

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