#7 Ester Barinaga

The debate on the role of the state is also a debate on the form to be taken by civil society. This has led to the introduction of a new language of social action, civic engagement and social entrepreneurship as well as an increased focus on the centrality of the civil society sector for the renewal and sustainability of our societies. Having that as a background, my research focuses on the strategies, methods and tools used by civil society initiatives in their efforts to ignite social change, with a particular emphasis on those initiatives addressing ethnic marginalization and stigmatization in our societies.

Ester Barinaga





Professor with special responsibilities, PhD
Tel: +45 38153225
E-mail: eb.mpp@cbs.dk
Department of Management, Politics & Philosophy


What is your understanding of entrepreneurship?

My approach to entrepreneurship is through my practical and intellectual interest in social entrepreneurship, which I look as organised bottom-up efforts aiming at social change. I’ve had the privilege to work alongside many a social entrepreneurs and I’m myself often presented as one (see the non-profit organisation I started and continue to chair Förorten i Centrum – www.forortenicentrum.org). It is thus both from practical experience and research on social entrepreneurship that I take my understanding of entrepreneurship. I see entrepreneurship as the process of planning, organising and implementing efforts to create and innovate within any sphere (may this be social, cultural, economic, digital…). This view moves entrepreneurship away from a strictly business definition and goes back to the root of the French word “entreprendre”, to set in motion, to initiate. The Danish term “iværksætta” transmits well this understanding.

What characterises an entrepreneur as an individual?

It is difficult to define the individual entrepreneur and research is not conclusive on this. My own take is to restrain from identifying entrepreneurship with a single individual, and instead focus on the process of coordinating efforts to create, materialise or set in motion a particular idea. This focus on process leads to the realisation that entrepreneurial initiatives are seldom carried (or successful) because of a single individual. Instead, the coordination of a variety of actors is at the core of entrepreneurship.

What does this mean for university education, or education more generally?

If entrepreneurship is about (1) setting ideas in motion and (2) coordinating actors, then university education needs to rely on action-oriented pedagogies. These are pedagogies that push the student to experiment with new ideas, that encourage her to discuss and test them, that foster looking out for partners and that contribute to frame and strengthen collaborations. The studio-based pedagogies that we work with in the OIE program are well suited for this.

What is the role and function of entrepreneurship for private companies and
for the public sector?

As time passes and society changes, organisations – public or private – need to respond to such changes. Cultivating an entrepreneurial attitude helps organisations not only to stay attune to contemporary social, economic, technological and cultural changes. An entrepreneurial spirit can contribute to be part of making the next wave of change.

In what sense is entrepreneurship important for society?

Entrepreneurship is a process that channels the energy for keeping society moving. The direction in which it moves depends on the actors involved and the ideas they work with.

To whom do you pass on the baton?

Thilde Langevang.



The page was last edited by: Entrepreneurship Platform // 06/23/2021