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Conceptual and Theoretical Research Opportunities

Greater attention to the conceptual and theoretical dimensions of TSE is needed. The first seven chapters of this book make some headway in exploring the key characteristics and operational dimensions of TSE and why it differs from traditional business models of tourism. They explore the societal drivers for TSE, the emergence of different TSE models, typologies of social entrepreneurs, and the nature of innovation in TSE. As the field develops it is important to make sure TSE research does not develop in isolation from the wider body of social entrepreneurship literature, and that knowledge is shared across disciplinary boundaries.

Mottiar and Boluk (chapter “Understanding How Social Entrepreneurs Fit into the Tourism Discourse”) and Day and Mody (chapter “Social Entrepreneurship Typologies and Tourism: Conceptual Frameworks”) invite tourism researchers in other fields to embrace TSE as part of their study framework. First, conceptualizing and theorizing the field is called for. Of course, the more established literature on social entrepreneurship provides the basis to commence this work. Buzinde et al. (chapter “Theorizing Social Entrepreneurship Within Tourism Studies”) suggest some important research avenues that can contribute to further theorizations of social entrepreneurship and tourism. These are (1) how social enterprises can offer sustainable solutions to the world’s social problems within the context of tourism, (2) an ontological discussion related to social actors influencing social change as an opportunity to undertake critical institutional analyses (i.e., profit, non-profit or public sector) of tourism related social enterprises, (3) research related to the interactions between social entrepreneurs and the place-based or non-place based communities to understand the collaborative efforts and political climates conducive to social change, and (4) what lessons can be gleaned from cases in which social entrepreneurs’ social missions differ from the visions espoused by communities? They also argue that further research into social enterprises in various tourism sectors is needed to amass evidence for best practices within the field. In their view, and mirroring our observations about the tendency for rhetorical arguments to support TSE, scholastic endeavors must go beyond idealizing examples of social entrepreneurship in order to critically examine the sustainability (social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental) of such initiatives. Furthermore, TSE produces different outcomes and impacts that are valued differently by different stakeholders. Understanding the way that these valuing practices take place, and how value is produced, yields important insights into how different outcomes of TSE fall unevenly across different sets of actors.

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