Theses Doctoral

Social Entrepreneurs in Rio De Janeiro: Learning Experiences and Social Capital

Scheiber, Laura Ann

The purpose of this study is to gain insight into how social entrepreneurs dedicated to violence prevention in Rio de Janeiro learn to take on the role of a social entrepreneur. Based on a two-tiered interview process with 27 social entrepreneurs in Rio de Janeiro conducted over a period of nine months, the study explores the breadth of experiences they rely upon to learn the necessary skills and knowledge to be a social entrepreneur. Built on the notion that social relations have the potential to provide social entrepreneurs with valuable information and resources, this dissertation also examines the social capital that is embedded in their social networks and the role it plays in the social entrepreneurial process. Findings show that leaders relied on a convergence of experiences and social capital in order to learn different skills, and knowledge relevant to social entrepreneurship. In particular, direct experience with inequality, interaction over an extended period of time with those most negatively affected by social problems, volunteer work, experiences with religious institutions, social activism, formal education, professional experience, reading and intercultural interactions proved to be crucial experiences in the learning trajectories of these leaders. Findings also revealed that opportunities for social capital associated with the leaders' initiatives' target population and a network of actors, or what I refer to as a community of innovation, were crucial in the leaders' social entrepreneurial trajectories. This study adds to our understanding of how social entrepreneurs learn to take on their leadership roles. Counter to prior literature that focused on personality traits of the social entrepreneur, my dissertation presents a more nuanced understanding of how the interplay among experiences, learning processes and social capital informed these leaders in taking on their social entrepreneurial role. The study is relevant to scholars and practitioners committed to fostering social entrepreneurship, particularly those dedicated to violence prevention and youth empowerment in urban areas. It offers educators, practitioners and policy-makers insights into how social entrepreneurs are learning and realizing their roles, including ways that are not currently part of formal programs in social entrepreneurship.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociology and Education
Thesis Advisors
Bartlett, Lesley
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 30, 2012