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Social Interpreneurship and The Jazz Age

David Bogle

Professor David Bogle is Pro-Provost of University College London’s (UCL) Doctoral School, overseeing UCL’s 4,500 research students. He is Chair of the League of European Research Universities Doctoral Studies Community and was a member of the European Research Area Human Resources and Mobility Working Group on Doctoral Education. He is a chemical engineer with research interests in systems engineering of manufacturing and physiological systems.

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Social intrapreneurs are rarely individual heroes but more like jazz musicians jamming in a group. But sometimes, say David Grayson, Melody McLaren and Heika Spitzeck, they need even bigger groups – a fully orchestrated ‘big band’.

A new order of business social innovators is emerging. Canadian author Anne Kingston, citing research by ad agency Sparks and Honey, recently noted key differences between two young groups.

Generation Z – those born since 1995, now 18 and under and who number about two billion worldwide – have a highly developed social conscience. Sixty per cent want jobs that create social impact compared to 31% of Generation Y (also known as “Millennials”), born between the 1980s and 2000. They are also more entrepreneurial (72% want to start their own businesses) and even more tolerant of racial, sexual and generational diversity than Generation Ys, who are a significantly socially conscious cohort in their own right, according to the 2014 Deloitte Millennials survey .

In 2012 the star Generation Z inventors who made headlines included 15-year-old Jack Andraka, who created an inexpensive, accurate sensor able to detect pancreatic cancer; and 17-year-old student Angela Zhang, who developed a protocol that allowed doctors to better detect cancerous tumours on MRI scans. Last February, 16-year-old Ann Makosinski claimed the top prize for 15- to 16-year-olds at the Google Science Fair, a place on Time’s “Top 30 under 30” list, as well as a barrage of media coverage for her flashlight, powered by the heat of a human hand. This had been inspired by the plight of a friend in the Philippines who had failed a grade at school because she lacked electricity to study at night.

GF14 3 jazz bookAlthough far younger than their counterparts currently enrolled in business schools, the emergence of these socially conscious, entrepreneurial Generation Zs represents the crest of a wave of business-based social innovation that we have seen building in our research on social intrapreneurism, which we published in our March 2014 book, Social Intrapreneurism and All That Jazz. Please click to read more on:

  • What are “social intrapreneurs” and why study them?
  • What do social intrapreneurs do?
  • How did they succeed in spite of the challenges?

For the full article, you can view the PDF or listen to the podcast.

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