The Battle to Define "Social Business": A David and Goliath Story

The Battle to Define “Social Business”: A David and Goliath Story

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The Battle to Define “Social Business”: A David and Goliath Story

Checking out Interactive posts from my WordPress website. 


  1. The interactive post feature is wonderful. I used a plugin, what about you?

  2. Yes, Blair Warner … a new plugin. Pretty easy to setup too.

  3. “It’s unclear whether the social business championed by Dr. Yunus will ever reach the scale and profitability of the enterprises targeted by IBM’s use of the term.” This is an interesting idea, and it is not clear whether social businesses as designed are meant to reach such scale. I must state here that the social business concept created and championed by Muhammad Yunus is truly innovative and revolutionary. It creates social capital and makes a profit. That is the future of business. We will see for profit at all costs business increasingly fall from public favor as their role in environmental destruction, alienation and exploitative labor practices are more clearly revealed.

  4. Thanks, Tazein Mirza Saad and thank you for the comment Justin Scoggin. Yes, it’s unclear whether the social impact version will really make sense at that kind of scale.

  5. Wow!! Is that ever cool!!

  6. A highly vital and relevant post Mr. Rosenblatt. I believe you just nailed it with a ‘purpose driven business’ in the sense of a business with a higher purpose and mission. I would take it even further if I may and call it ‘a motivational business’ meaning a business that create a strong sense of motivation to do good, to do well, not just for yourself but for everyone that in someway are touched by any type of business transactions that the company or enterprise engage in.

    Money tend to sometimes get in the way of this purpose. I doesn’t necessarily have to. It all comes down to how you relate to the value of money. In short: if money becomes entirely materialistic and creates self-centeredness, then how can it be of benefit for the greater good? If on the other hand your motivation shifts to view money as a craftsman’s tool for creating value beyond the pure materialistic sense then the focus shifts naturally. We suddenly have something that we could relate to as socially meaningful since it deepens and foster the relations between people in a more healthy and natural way. I believe this s the standpoint of Dr. Yunus. Please correct me if I have misinterpreted his reasoning.

    In Nilofer Merchant’s book “11 Rules For Creating Value In The #SocialEra” she references to the meaning behind a common purpose as a natural driver for an organization. So congratulations for building and expanding upon Nilofer’s thoughts and contribution to manifest the #SocialEra.

  7. A question asked in a UK business forum 3 years ago.

    The new understanding of an adopter of social technologies and engine for social good was described in the P-CED white paper and reitereated 5 years ago, when we asked What is Social Enterprise:

  8. Gideon Rosenblatt this is a much needed and timely, perhaps, overview of the social business definition and the struggle to claim it. Perfect piece! 

  9. Here’s an extract from what was said in 2008 “Allowing that some people do not matter, as things are turning out, allows that other people do not matter and those cracks are widening to swallow up more and more people. Social enterprise is the first concerted effort in the Information Age to at least attempt to rectify that problem, if only because letting it get worse and worse threatens more and more of us. Growing numbers of people are coming to understand that “them” might equal “me.” Call it compassion, or call it enlightened and increasingly impassioned self-interest. Either way, we are all in this together, and we will each have to decide for ourselves what it means to ignore someone to death, or not.

    Notably, Gates came around in 2001 to what P-CED had been advocating and doing since 1996 — since the first year of the mass Information Revolution, which was made possible by release to the masses of an easy-to-use hypertext reading device called a “browser”, from Netscape. Gates’ label is ‘creative capitalism’, which is just another way of saying people-centered economic development. Focus is capitalism with output modified to specifically help people that traditional capitalism did not and would not reach.”

  10. Gideon Rosenblatt  Really enjoyed reading your article. I knew about Dr Yunus championing the term Social Enterprise but wasn’t aware that he referenced it as social business.

    I define Social Business as the art, science and philosophy of building relationships that achieve business goals whereas I think of social enterprise as a business that has a community benefit focus – i.e. Not for Profit type organisations. 

    Interesting to see how the debate rages on. Thanks for sharing Gideon!

  11. For me, this is still largely a faux-battle as it is really more about story vs. impact.  From the impact perspective, there really is no battle.  Either there is impact, or there isn’t.  But, from the perspective of the brand (entrepreneur or organization), being able to define who you are allows for differentiation from “them”

  12. Richard Brubaker As a practioner I can demonstrate impact in the leverage of change in childcare policy we made in Ukraine, though we could find no willing investors

  13. Gideon Rosenblatt do you mind sharing (if you haven’t already) the plugin for adding the button in your G+ post?  Additionally I see you have G+, Facebook and Disqus comments set up.  I’d love to know what you’re using to do that.

    Great post as well…

  14. Gideon Rosenblatt , there are other terms in this space similar to Yunus’ definition of social business, like ‘benefit corporation’, or ‘B-Corp’:

  15. Thanks, Jan Friman. And yes, money as a means to an end rather than an end in itself is another frame on this. I’ve not read her book (yet), but here is a post where Nilofer Merchant talks about varying definitions of social in business:

    A worthwhile read. 

  16. Absolutely, Michael Bernstein. I’m a big B Corp fan – the consulting firm I used to run was a B Corp. Also, B Corporation is here on Google+. 

  17. Ah, but not all actual benefit corporations are certified b-corps, and (I think) vice versa.

  18. Gideon Rosenblatt I wrote recently about  ‘Reimaiging capitalism: The new bottom line’ using definitions from our proposals and business plans which go back to the 1996 paper for Clinton’e re-election. It related our arguments on deploying profit to social purpose and in the case of both ourselves and Yunus, this bottom line is a matter of human benefit. Only Yunus and ourselves had drawn attention to the inadequacy of traditionla capitalism before 2008 

  19. I think the world is finally catching on to what you’ve been saying for a while now, Jeff Mowatt. It feels like there is some real momentum starting to build right now. 

  20. Also the ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ movement, and the ‘triple bottom line’.

  21. Thanks Gideon Rosenblatt For us one of the greatest difficulties has been finding support when media is often censored. We were heavily involved in efforts to help vulnerable children while being howled down both by those who saw us as business masquerading as charity and the more recent converts who wanted to borrow from our work. We were acutely aware of the need to protect our IP from oligarchs so we took the unusual step of publishing a strategy plan in a magazine. Creating Shared Value came out of Harvard 4 years later and I wasn’t alone in noting the omissions.

  22. My visualization of the two (divergent) paths and how they might eventually converge:

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