Narrating the ‘social’: the evolving stories of Pakistan’s social entrepreneurs

James Cunningham, Lin Xiong*, Hina Hashim, Mohammad Sohail Yunis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Social enterprises are often characterized by the vision and drive of an individual founder. We challenge this by taking inspiration from Alistair R. Anderson’s arguments that social entrepreneurship is better understood as enacted within a social context. We move beyond linear conceptualizations to consider a more nuanced, contextually informed picture, where understandings of what it is to be ‘social’ in one’s entrepreneuring are created at the interaction of the individual and their situation. A narrative approach is used to analyse 25 life stories used by social entrepreneurs in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, an area of social transition. We access how these entrepreneurs give meaning to the ‘social’ aspects of what they do. Our findings present a multifaceted character, defined by their responses to changing social contexts. This is manifest in entrepreneurial practice, where we have a vacillation between acts of social rebellion and an enterprising organization of benevolence, evolving in a social context which changes with and, in part, because of our social entrepreneurs. We move beyond definitional characteristics and closer to a theory of practice, by considering how social entrepreneurs interact with changing social demands and adapt their activities accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-685
Number of pages18
JournalEntrepreneurship and Regional Development
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2022


  • context
  • developing economy
  • narratives
  • Pakistan
  • social entrepreneurship


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