White Papers

As an Aboriginal consulting company, we have a different perspective on business, and that's what we aim to share with you through these white papers. Browse through the tabs below for topics that interest you. Expanded PDF versions of each paper are available on request.

Social Entrepreneurship - Past and Future

“It’s becoming clearer that what’s needed is a new modus operandi based on new business principles like transparency, integrity, and collaboration.” (Tapscott, 2010, 9; emphasis added.)

We’ve all heard of ‘social entrepreneurship’, that latest fad. Many of us aren’t sure what to make of it, and everyone is asking the same question: ‘It sounds great, but … is it profitable?’

In Macrowikinomics, co-authors Dan Tapscott and Anthony Williams argue that the global economy has reached a tipping point – is teetering between stagnation and renewal – and that only a new, collaborative, and socially conscious form of business will enable us to flourish. Although published two years ago, this diagnosis and prescription remain relevant, and in fact have only grown more compelling.

In a sense, the “new” business principles they call for aren’t new, but rather re-newed. After several centuries in which market liberalism has been the dominant ideology in the West, older ideas are of necessity re-emerging, only this time under a new name: social entrepreneurship.

To step back: in 1705, the Belgian satirist-cum-economist Bernard Mandeville published a small work entitled The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Public Benefits. This visionary work, which introduced the idea of the ‘invisible hand’ guiding the unregulated market to prosperity, preceded Adam Smith’s magnum opus The Wealth of Nations by 70 years and has had a vast influence on subsequent capitalistic thought.

Mandeville’s bold thesis was that a nation’s collective wealth, and therefore its power, is built on the individual unscrupulousness of its population. In a formula: private vice equals public benefit. Greed is good. Gordon Gekko’s seemingly iconoclastic speech in the movie Wall Street clearly unfolds this principle, effectively unspoken, behind the mainstream of economic thought since the 18th Century:

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed – for lack of a better word – is good.
Greed is right.
Greed works.
Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.
Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the
upward surge of mankind.

The social entrepreneur represents a juxtaposition of the cutting edge with the pre-modern, pre-Mandeville vision of economics. While understanding the economic law of supply and demand and the need to turn a profit, the social entrepreneur also believes that business should be socially embedded, and that the motivation for profit and consumption, the underlying motivation of our present economic system, must be tutored by some more human and less reductive law. In short, the private vice of greed does not produce the public benefit of wealth – not in the long term – and in this most of human history agrees.

“And now every organization, and every budding leader within them, must grapple with a profound choice: participate in rebooting all the old models, approaches, and structures or sit on the sidelines and risk institutional paralysis or even collapse.” (Tapscott, 343)

Since 2008 the world has changed, and businesses have a choice to make. We submit that the social entrepreneur is in the vanguard of the systemic transformation Mr. Tapscott and Mr. Williams describe.