Rural Entrepreneurship in the Baltic Sea Region

The key role of entrepreneurship and innovation for economic and regional development is now considered a "stylized fact" in science and politics. What is new, however, is the diversity of social challenges and the complexity of the problems, e.g., sustainable climate protection, coping with the consequences of demographic change, changing values in society, and the challenges of the Corona pandemic. Social entrepreneurs in particular are seen as pioneers of change, with the potential to develop new, innovative solutions to social challenges using entrepreneurial means. This is especially true for rural-peripheral regions, which are in a permanent structural crisis and have to cope with special challenges. However, the spatial perspective is hardly found in research on "social entrepreneurs" and "social entrepreneurship" so far.

"Social entrepreneurs" are broadly defined as those individuals who solve a social challenge with new entrepreneurial approaches. This clearly distinguishes them from purely civic engagement, which can be described as the voluntary, usually unpaid commitment of individuals to promote the common good. The suffix "social" refers to the importance of social goals in the context of economic activities ("entrepreneurship"). The focus is on social innovations, understood as new practices of action. The adopted perspective of a social construction refers to the significance of novelty as society or certain social groups collectively perceive it, whereby it should be noted that social innovations can have fundamentally positive and negative effects.

The aim of the work package is to analyze the significance of the phenomenon "social entrepreneurship" in the Baltic Sea region, especially in a rural context. The project thus makes a significant contribution to conceptualizing, relating and contextualizing the central phenomena of "social entrepreneur", "social entrepreneurship" and "social innovation" in the Baltic Sea Region. Furthermore, it addresses the overarching question of how social innovation and social entrepreneurship can be empirically captured and assessed in the first place, thereby contributing to the study of cultures in the Baltic Sea region.