Dr Pamela Hartigan was Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and they continue to honour her work.
Hartigan was one of the world’s leading proponents of social entrepreneurship and was actively engaged in a range of international initiatives to promote it. As Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, she focused on advancing social entrepreneurship through leveraging top academic research, rising leadership talent and opportunities for targeted engagement with the global community of innovators to drive large scale impact on the world’s most pressing problems. She was a driving force in supporting initiatives to encourage students from Oxford and elsewhere who want to apply their talents to improving the state of the world, in identifying academics involved in relevant research, and developing case studies and creating tailored programmes for social entrepreneurs.
Before joining the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Hartigan was the first managing director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, an organisation that engages its community of social entrepreneurs in shaping global, regional and industry agendas that address pressing problems in close collaboration with the other stakeholders of the World Economic Forum.
She described herself as an optimist who sees opportunities in the current state of global flux. She considered this the perfect time to rethink business, with entrepreneurship playing a major role. Yet despite her passion for social entrepreneurship, she did not find the term itself helpful. ‘Entrepreneurs,’ she said, ‘whether primarily commercial or social in orientation, are cut from the same cloth: resourceful, pragmatic, innovative and opportunity-oriented. All entrepreneurs need to keep in mind social and financial goals. Social entrepreneurs prioritise social gain and pursue financial gain to sustain and expand their social mission and its growth.’
Entrepreneurs, she said, are unreasonable: they never accept the status quo, see opportunities in almost everything, learn from failure, and change systems from within. But they also need partners to achieve success – team members, corporates and governments – and it is important to build bridges to enable these partnerships to flourish. For business education, she believed the challenge is to develop business courses that are more attuned to stimulate solutions to the complex challenges that face us. She was excited by the extent to which MBA students are seeking to apply their business talents to creating or working for companies that pursue financial health without compromising social and environmental objectives.
Hartigan was a non-executive director at Volans, an organisation she co-founded in 2008. Volans is focused on scaling entrepreneurial solutions to the world’s biggest problems. It develops partnerships with corporations and social enterprises to create opportunities for sharing talent; spark new business models; and facilitates investment in innovative solutions.
She was also a Trustee or on the Board of Advisors of the following social enterprises: Bamboo Finance (Switzerland), CAMBIA (Australia), Fair Trade USA, INDEX (Denmark), Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation (USA), Mobile Metrix (Brazil), Royal DSM (The Netherlands), SafePoint UK), SocialKapital Fund (Denmark), The Story Museum (UK) and Waste Ventures (India).
Hartigan’s work examined global, social and institutional entrepreneurship, including mainstreaming social entrepreneurship into the business school curriculum, models of scaling entrepreneurial ventures that seek systemic social change, and innovative business models to increase access to services and products for disadvantaged populations. Her interests also included corporate citizenship, public/private partnerships, international public health, gender and development and her primary geographical focus was Latin America.
Hartigan was a frequent lecturer on social entrepreneurship and innovation at graduate schools of business in the USA, Europe and Asia, and an Adjunct Professor at the Columbia Business School. Her book, co-authored with John Elkington, co-founder of SustainAbility (UK) and entitled The Power of Unreasonable People: How Entrepreneurs Create Markets to Change the World was published by Harvard Business Press in February 2008. The book is used as a reference guide in the field and has been translated into 11 languages.
Hartigan obtained a PhD in Human Developmental Psychology from Catholic University Washington DC, an MA in Education from America University, Washington DC, an MA in International Economics from Institut d’Etudes Europeénes Université Libre de Bruxelles and a Bachelor of Science and International Economics from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington DC. Born and raised in Latin America, she published in both English and Spanish.
Areas of expertise:
Read our remembrance of Dr Pamela Hartigan
Hartigan’s areas of expertise included social entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, corporate citizenship, public/private partnerships, international public health, and gender and development.
Social entrepreneurship refers to the practice of combining innovation, opportunity and resourcefulness to address critical problems. Entrepreneurial approaches to social change seek to achieve transformations in systems and processes that create unsatisfactory conditions for people and the planet. Thus, entrepreneurial approaches are disruptive in nature and often resisted by those seeking to preserve the status quo. Social entrepreneurs may set up organisations to achieve their goals, and these may be structured as not-for-profit, but often income generating, or for-profit, but not profit maximizing.
Hartigan, P. and Elkington, J. 2011. The Power of Unreasonable People: How Entrepreneurs Create Markets that Change to World. Harvard Business Press.
The practice of entrepreneurship is not confined to a particular sector. Entrepreneurial approaches can be pursued by people (“intrapreneurs”) working in public, corporate or academic institutions who are seeking to transform the systems and/or processes in those institutions that have negative consequences for communities, whether local, national or global.
Hartigan, P. and Love, C. 2013. The Power of Intrapreneurial Teams. Stanford Social Innovation Review.
The largest contribution social entrepreneurs make to solving seemingly incalcitrant problems is in devising disruptive business models that re-imagine services traditionally delivered by government - from education to social services. In coming up with those models, entrepreneurs are highly innovative, particularly in finding ways to amplify their reach and scope as well as financially sustain their activities. Achieving scale remains one of the most important challenges facing entrepreneurial approaches, and many remain small and local. Those that have achieved scale have done so through strategic partnerships with governments or the companies.
Hartigan, P. 2010-2011. 'Creating Blueprints for Business in the 21st Century: Social Entrepreneurship shows the way'. In Innovations for Development. Augusto Lopez Claros, Editor.
Hartigan, P., Elkington, J. And Litovsky, A. 2010. “From Enterprise to Ecosystem: Rebooting the Scale Debate”. In Scaling Social Impact: New Thinking. Paul Bloom and Edward Skloot (Eds). Palgrave Macmillan.
Hartigan was actively involved in a wide range of initiatives internationally which contribute to the implementation and impact of social entrepreneurial activities. Her work supported the work of social entrepreneurs and their organisations around the world, and informed policy decisions in a range of settings/countries/locations.
Hartigan’s interest in governance of social enterprises led her to initiate a partnership between the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and Linklaters, a global law firm, to pioneer an annual event on governance in the social sector. The event brings practitioners and academics together with policy makers to identify research gaps for improving governance practices among organisations.
Emerge, one of the UK’s leading initiatives to inspire and develop the next generation of leaders in social innovation, was established by Hartigan. The Emerge Conference, held annually in October at Saïd Business School, has become the pre-eminent event for students and young professionals who are passionate about redefining the ‘rules of the game’. In addition, the Emerge Venture Lab, a rigorous six-month programme to develop student-led social ventures, has established itself as one of the leading programmes for accelerating the development of young social entrepreneurs.
Hartigan advised universities around the world that are keen to develop centres modelled on the Skoll Centre in Oxford. These include universities in the USA, South Africa, Ghana, Hong Kong, Australia, and Dubai. She was a frequent lecturer on social entrepreneurship and innovation at graduate schools of business in the USA, Europe and Asia. Recent keynotes have included the Doing Good Doing Well Conference at IESE in Barcelona, Spain; the First Annual Meeting on Social Entrepreneurship in Oslo, Norway; the Impact Investing Meeting in Cartagena, Colombia; a keynote address at the 125th Celebration of EWHA University, Asia’s largest women’s university, in Seoul, South Korea; and a keynote address at the Global Shifts conference, a pan-Asian event held in Melbourne, Australia.
She was a regular media commentator on issues relating to social entrepreneurship.
Recent coverage includes:
‘Inventing a New Future: Beyond Our Humpty Dumpty World’ in The Huffington Post. 31 March 2012.
Interview: ‘Pamela Hartigan is an Unreasonable Person’ in Dumbo Feather (Australia’s magazine about extraordinary people). Feb 2012.
Interview: ‘The Power of Unreasonable People’ in Social Innovation Conversations, a Conversations Network Channel.
Hartigan taught social entrepreneurship on the MBA and EMBA programmes, including ‘Design for Innovation and Change’ and ‘Strengthening the Capacity of Social Enterprises Poised to Scale’ courses. Hartigan also supervised the MBA students’ Entrepreneurship Projects.
Hartigan firmly believed students can learn as much from failed ventures as successful ones, and regularly invites practitioners into the classroom to stimulate candid discussion about approaches that have worked and those that have not. Her assignments were highly practical, drawing on a wide range of disciplines. She emphasised the importance of being ‘entrepreneurial’, irrespective of whether you work within a large organisation or are starting your own venture.
Case studies from The Pears Business School Partnership, which Hartigan led at Saïd Business School, feed into the MBA programme, encouraging new approaches to business practices to meet pressing social and environmental challenges.
Hartigan also contributed to Saїd Business School’s programme for small and medium enterprises which form part of the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 SMEs in the UK, she regularly delivered five-hour modules on sustainable entrepreneurship to entrepreneurs in major cities in the UK.
Hartigan led a new initiative at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship in collaboration with Oxford’s Executive Education Programme. This initiative, the Oxford Programme for Transformational Leadership (OPTL), seeks to address the organisational challenges faced by rapidly scaling social enterprises around the world. The OTPL began with a pilot initiative for the founders and senior in-country staff of Riders for Health, an internationally recognised and award-winning UK-based social enterprise focused on providing transport solutions to organisations delivering health care and other vital services to rural populations in Zimbabwe, the Gambia, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Lesotho and Tanzania. A 4 day immersive leadership and management course was designed to better equip Riders for scale; immediate and medium term feedback indicates that the OTPL has been of great value for Riders. Subsequently, a number of public and private sector funders have expressed interest in offering similarly customised courses to social ventures in their portfolios.
In addition to her work at Saïd Business School, Hartigan was an Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School where she developed and taught an elective on social entrepreneurship for the MBA programme called ‘A Global Perspective’. Students have consistently evaluated the course as excellent. She was also involved in the International Organisation MBA (IOMBA) at the Haute Ecole de Commerce (HEC), University of Geneva, where she delivered a one-week intensive course on sustainable entrepreneurship and innovation for senior management in international organisations.