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An interesting look is presented about “What Social Entrepreneurs and Monopolists Have (&Don’t Have) in Common” in this article (http://bostinno.com/2012/08/05/what-social-entrepreneurs-and-monopolists-have-dont-have-in-common/).

This article talks about how monopolists (or general business owners) owe a debt of sorts to social entrepreneurs due to the fact that social entrepreneurs help ease the imperfections of a hyper-competitive marketplace.

The origins of this connection between social enterprise and monopolies started with Theodore Vail, the founder of AT&T’s telephone monopoly in the early 20th century. Vail believed that there government’s should allow large companies to monopolize industries, in exchange for these companies providing universal service to the country. In fact, according to this philosophy known as ‘Vailism’, monopolies were a social cause since they did away with the “waste” caused by companies competing against each other.

While the idea of monopoly has been replaced with the belief that competition and a vibrant market place are crucial to an innovative economy, the idea of ‘Vailism’ is still relevant to the imperfection of modern-day markets. As the article points out, “They discriminate against those who can’t afford to pay and, in plenty of cases, pursue profit at the expense of social good.” This is where social entrepreneurs come into play. Like AT&T and other monopolies of the early 19th century, they accept the opportunity to compete in the market, while doing social good as well.

However, the method in which they do this in is where the two concepts fundamentally differ: “Whereas the ethos of AT&T was to replace competitive markets with socially conscious capitalists, today’s social entrepreneurs hope to augment or even save capitalism through the addition of a class of businesses focused on more than the bottom line.”

Read the full article and share your thoughts below.

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