Embedding social entrepreneurship in higher education institutions requires them to establish adequate structures that match its selected social entrepreneurship culture. Knowledge and data can support the institutions in creating these structures.

While social entrepreneurship can be a novel engagement area to higher education institutions there is also the chance that academic staff and students has already developed tacit and explicit knowledge about it. Frequently, these knowledge resources remain at the level of the individuals and are exploited with the institutional context. Exploring and tapping these knowledge resources and experiences can support higher education institutions in selecting and developing matching structures.

Relevance of input

The embedding of social entrepreneurship can mean a significant investment for the higher education institution. Interventions that do not match well with experiences and interests of staff and students can lead to malinvestment and a lack of acceptance. The tacit and explicit knowledge of staff and students represents an important orientation for designing an effective social entrepreneurship strategy. Including these can secure their support.

Examples of interventions at institutional level

To mobilise this knowledge higher education institutions can employ different instruments. However, in the literature knowledge mobilisation is hardly addressed as an intervention that can support capacity building for social entrepreneurship in higher education institution. However, research on other professional organisations such as health care organisations pointed out that mobilising knowledge from staff should consider the following (Kislov, Waterman and Boaden 2014)

  • Rather than building a capacity the process should be understood as developing capacity
  • Involving staff as active participant who contribute to a collaborative project rather than treating them as passive recipients of established instruments secure high acceptance of new strategies and processes
  • Besides mechanism to explore the tacit and explicit knowledge of staff, institutions should exploit this knowledge and upscale it/disseminate across the whole organisations (see also Kolster 2021)
  • Collective learning should complement individual learning.
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Other relevant resources
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Links to selected HEInnovate case studies
  • Not covered in HEInnovate
Further reading
  • Kolster, Renze (2021): Structural ambidexterity in higher education: excellence education as a testing ground for educational innovations. In European Journal of Higher Education 11 (1), pp. 64–81. DOI: 10.1080/21568235.2020.1850312.
  • Nichols, Naomi; Phipps, David J.; Provencal, Johanne; Hewitt, Allyson (2013): Knowledge Mobilization, Collaboration and Social Innovation: Leveraging Investments in Higher Education. In Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research 4 (1), pp. 25–42.
  • Tremblay, Crystal; Hall, Budd L. (2014): Learning form community-university partnerships: A Canadian study on community impact and conditions for success. In International Journal of Action Research 10 (3), pp. 376–404.