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Social Entrepreneurship

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The concept of “social entrepreneurship” lies at the heart of a research project on which Dr. Volker Then of Heidelberg University’s Centre for Social Investment is working. The funding for the project totals approx. 507,000 euros. With colleagues from the Zeppelin University at Friedrichshafen and the Technical University of Munich, Dr. Then will be investigating economic, communicative, administrative, politological and sociological aspects of the subject. The project is part of the newly instituted Mercator Research Network (Mercator Forscherverbund) entitled “Innovative Social Action – Social Entrepreneurship” for which the foundation of the same name is providing a total of 970,000 euros.

The term “social entrepreneurship” stands for a form of entrepreneurial activity in which social tasks take precedence over profit management. This kind of commitment is evident in such areas as education, environmentalism, anti-poverty measures and human rights. The Mercator Research Network investigates the applicability, benefits, limitations and effects of this concept and inquires whether and to what extent it can serve as a model for innovative entrepreneurial action to further social causes in Germany. The research envisaged encompasses both theoretical analyses and the evaluation of empirical data with a view to formulating recommendations for science and scholarship, business, policy-making and society.

The new Mercator Research Network comprises four sub-projects being worked on at eight German universities and research institutions. In the framework of this network, scientists and scholars from Friedrichshafen, Munich, Heidelberg, Bochum, Bremen, Lüneburg, Berlin and Greifswald will be collaborating from April 2010 to March 2012. Their key concerns will be education, climate/environment and migration/integration.

Stiftung Mercator initiates and funds projects that promote better educational opportunities at schools and universities. It supports initiatives that embody the idea of open-mindedness and tolerance through intercultural encounters, encouraging the sharing of knowledge and culture. For more information, go to

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Latest Revision: 2018-05-23