A three-pronged approach to social business: a Brazilian multi-case analysis

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Social businesses present a new paradigm to capitalism, in which private companies, non-profit organizations and civil society create a new type of business with the main objective of solving social problems with financial sustainability and efficiency through market mechanisms. As any new phenomenon, different authors conceptualize social businesses with distinct views. This article aims to present and characterize three different perspectives of social business definitions: the European, the American and that of the emerging countries. Each one of these views was illustrated by a different Brazilian case. We conclude with the idea that all the cases have similar characteristics, but also relevant differences that are more than merely geographical. The perspectives analyzed in this paper provide an analytical framework for understanding the field of social businesses. Moreover, the cases demonstrate that in the Brazilian context the field of social business is under construction and that as such it draws on different conceptual influences to deal with a complex and challenging reality.

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