Training in social entrepreneurship seeks to develop professionals capable of responding to the problems of their environment with innovative solutions that positively impact society.
Social entrepreneurship goes beyond innovation and the development of a good idea. It is also an excellent way to address local problems more efficiently and sustainably than philanthropy and altruism. According to the Ashoka organization (2022), social entrepreneurship contributes to developing economic and administrative knowledge and forges the development of attitudes and skills that allow entrepreneurs to identify opportunities, generate value ideas, and exploit innovations. Therefore, social entrepreneurship projects are a fundamental component for training new professionals who seek to convert their social proposals into actions that impact their real environment.
When entrepreneurs devise a solution or project, they develop skills that impact their profession, such as innovative thinking, a critical perspective, or an adequate methodology for decision-making in response to a problem (Vázquez-Parra, Amézquita-Zamora, & Ramírez-Montoya, 2021). If we add a social component, the entrepreneur also acquires a systemic vision of the world and an ethical and citizen awareness of his environment. Therefore, the research team at the Institute for the Future of Education of Tecnológico de Monterrey proposes social entrepreneurship as a viable and practical option for the development of complex thinking.
“Social entrepreneurship requires skills associated with various environmental problems, which implies a need to combine visions from other disciplines such as the humanities, social sciences, health sciences or even creative industries.”
Training in social entrepreneurship aims to develop professionals who can respond to problems in their environment through innovative solutions that create value and positively impact society. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), educational institutions are crucial for developing entrepreneurship. They are environments where young people can acquire the necessary knowledge to trigger innovative ideas while acquiring essential skills to implement materialized solutions in complex environments (Tecnológico de Monterrey, 2019).
Specifically, training in social entrepreneurship incorporates cognitive, procedural, and attitudinal domains that generate innovation with a differentiated value in society, developing economically and administratively sustainable ideas that foster social and personal skills (García-Gonzalez and Ramírez-Montoya, 2021). It is important to note that social entrepreneurship competency requires transdisciplinary development. Although all ventures require cognitive knowledge of the business area, social entrepreneurship requires skills associated with various, multiple problems of the environment, which implies combining the perspectives of other disciplines such as the humanities, social sciences, health sciences, and even the creative industries.
According to the proposal of García-González, Ramírez-Montoya, and de León and Aragón (2020), the social entrepreneurship competency comprises four sub-competencies that relate to personal dimensions of self-control, leadership, social innovation, and social value and entrepreneurial management (Table 1).
Table 1. Social Entrepreneurship Competency and its four sub-competencies and indicators.
As seen in the table above, social entrepreneurship competency involves developing sub-competencies and broad skills linked to the ideation process but beyond entrepreneurship itself. Thus, it is possible to consider correlations between social entrepreneurship and other competencies, valuing shared common aspects such as complex thinking.
Complex thinking competency is an individual’s ability to develop multidimensional analysis and reasoning through integrated cognitive processes that endow him with the flexibility to meet the challenges of contemporary changing contexts. Professionally, this competency develops an ability to visualize problems with broad, interconnected perspectives, considering all the elements and actors involved and the dynamics among them (Vázquez-Parra, Castillo-Martínez, Ramírez-Montoya & Millán, 2022). According to Morin (1990), this way of understanding the environment is the meaning of competency for complexity.
At the formative level, the complex thinking competency is considered one of the so-called transversal competencies because, although it has professional relevance, it is not considered exclusively for a particular discipline or work; it has a transversal impact on students (Tecnologico de Monterrey, 2019). Critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, innovation, intercultural skills, productivity and responsibility, and leadership comprise some of the complex thinking skills indispensable for decision-making in any professional field (Koerber & Osterhaus, 2019). As part of the complex thinking competency, four sub-competencies or types of thinking have been identified that contribute to achieving this integral idea of reality in individuals. We must provide them with the cognitive and attitudinal skills and tools necessary to develop complex thinking optimally.
Our research team proposes a methodology for entrepreneurs seeking social entrepreneurship ideas while developing the competency of complex thinking and its sub-competencies through useful tools beyond a specific project.
SEL4C: Social Entrepreneurship Learning for Complexity, is made up of a team of researchers belonging to the interdisciplinary research group R4C: Reasoning for Complexity in the Institute for the Future of Education of Tecnológico de Monterrey. We focus on how social entrepreneurship impacts students’ development of complex thinking. Through a set of activities designed as part of the Novus Project EduToolKit, we emphasize paying greater attention to the process of training entrepreneurs than to entrepreneurship itself, valuing that the formation of competencies must have a perspective focused on the person and not so much the product.
As part of the process of implementing this methodology, we invite those interested in developing social entrepreneurship ideas (students, academicians, or the general public) to execute these four stages:
From the implementation of this process, we are generating research that improves training in social entrepreneurship and complex thinking and leads to devising affordable educational tools for all people to acquire and develop these skills.
As a research group, we recognize the challenge we face for this proposal to reach more teachers and students to include the optimal number of variables and educational environments. Therefore, we are currently identifying and inviting professors, academicians, and researchers from national and international universities who want to join the project and implement this training process in their classrooms.
We are aware of the value of adding ideation processes to those subjects designed to achieve a practical and focused landing on the knowledge imparted to students. We also identify how meaningful it can be to promote complex thinking in entrepreneurial environments. Therefore, we open the invitation to any institution desiring to generate innovation and social entrepreneurship projects suitable for complex environments. Are you interested? Join SEL4C. Share opinions, questions, or contact details in the comments section.
About the author
Dr. José Carlos Vázquez Parra ( has a degree in Psychology, a Master’s in Education, and a Ph.D. in Humanistic Studies. He has more than one hundred publications on Gender Studies, Economic Ethics, and Educational Innovation. He is currently a professor at the School of Humanities and Education and a researcher at the Institute for the Future of Education at Tecnológico de Monterrey.
Ashoka. (2022). Emprendimiento Social. Accessed May 11, 2022, from
García, A., Ramírez, M., de León, G., & Aragón, S. (2020). El emprendimiento social como una competencia transversal: construcción y validación de un instrumento de valoración en el contexto universitario. REVESCO. Revista de Estudios Cooperativos.
García-Gonzalez, A., & Ramírez-Montoya, M. (2021). Social entrepreneurship education: changemaker training at the university. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, 11(5), 1236-1251. doi:
Koerber, S., & Osterhaus, C. (2019). Individual Differences in Early Scientific Thinking: Assessment, Cognitive Influences, and Their Relevance for Science Learning. Journal of Cognition and Development, 20(4), 510–533. doi:
Morin, E. (1990). Introducción al pensamiento complejo. Mexico City: Gedisa.
Tecnologico de Monterrey. (2019). Tec21 Transversal Competencies. Monterrey: ITESM.
Vázquez-Parra, J. C., Amézquita-Zamora, J. A., & Ramírez-Montoya, M. S. (2021). Student Perception of Their Knowledge of Social Entrepreneurship: Gender-gap and Disciplinary Analysis of an Ashoka Changemaker Campus in Latin America. Journal of Research in Higher Education. doi:
Vázquez-Parra, J., Castillo-Martínez, I., Ramírez-Montoya, M., & Millán, A. (2022). Development of the Perception of Achievement of Complex Thinking: A Disciplinary Approach in a Latin American Student Population. Education Sciences, 12(5), 289. doi:
Edition by Rubí Román ( – Edu bits and Webinars Editor – “Learning that inspires” – Observatory of the Institute for the Future of Education of Tec de Monterrey.
Translation by Daniel Wetta.

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