Although often positioned at opposing ends of a spectrum, social enterprise (SE) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) share a similarly ‘fuzzy’ status in scholarship. These terms have both been presented in an array of (often ambiguous) definitions, which are frequently disputed; setting the scene for little consensus among scholars on agreed definitions (Brammer, Jackson, & Matten, 2012; Dart, 2004; Galera & Borzaga, 2009; Haugh, 2005; Jones & Keogh, 2006; Maignan & Ralston, 2002; Martin & Osberg, 2007; Matten & Moon, 2008; Sethi, 1975). Both concepts have also demonstrated differences in practice, influenced by geographic, social, political and economic factors (see for example Grant, 2008; Kerlin, 2006, 2013; Maignan & Ralston, 2002; Matten & Moon, 2008).
If we are to consider the rationale behind such divergence, we can identify similarities between the two concepts. Matten and Moon (2008) liken CSR to an ‘umbrella concept’, in this case encompassing society-business relations. The concept is acknowledged as being internally complex, and dynamic in nature (Matten & Moon 2008). Similarly, SE has often been presented in scholarship as an umbrella term, at times linked synonymously with ‘social entrepreneurship (Peredo & McLean, 2006). The SE ‘umbrella’ can encompass a range of activities including not for profits engaging in market activity, co-operatives, social service organisations contracting with government to provide services to the community and social businesses (Grant, 2008; Teasdale, 2010; Thompson & Doherty, 2006).