Social entrepreneuring as mechanisms to empower and disengage religious terrorists

Research output: Conference PapersRGC 32 - Refereed conference paper (without host publication)peer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2015


Title5th EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise
Period30 June - 3 July 2015


Although hybridity and social value creation are generally accepted as the core defining characteristics of social entrepreneurship (Santos, 2012; Mair and Marti, 2006; Battilana and Dorado, 2010), there is much less attention has been paid to the role of empowerment as a core dominant logic of action of SE (Santos, 2012; Chetkovich and Kunreuther, 2006). As a matter of fact, social ventures are in the business of “empowering and rehabilitating” people. Examples include Grameen Bank and BRAC use microloans and 16 Principles and 17 Promises, respectively, as holistic empowerment and rehabilitation strategies to break the vicious cycle of poverty (Hashemi et al., 1996). Specialisterne and Dialog in the Dark use employment to empower disabled individuals.
Unfortunately, processes of empowerment are at the periphery of, if not absent, from the SE literature. Despite their importance as the “engine” to achieve social mission, there is little research that attempts to examine why and how social ventures are (more or less) successful in empowering and rehabilitating their target beneficiaries and in what ways different design of empowerment strategies achieve certain outcomes, and their implication on the sustainability of social ventures. Importantly, certain type of social problems such as “poverty alleviation” has received a lot of attention by SE scholars (Tobias et al., 2013; Kistruck et al., 2013) however little is known about how and why social ventures can address other types of persistent and complex social problems, including terrorism. Terrorism, particularly religious terrorism, is a growing threat across many corners of the world but despite what have been done so far, all conventional approaches to combat terrorism - from military operation, imprisonment, border law etc. - have largely failed. The persistence of Al Qaeda and Jamaah Islamiyah to the rise of the Islamic State in Syria is the testament to this.
To better understand how social ventures design and apply empowerment strategies to achieve their social and economic mission, I grounded this exploratory study within the empowerment and rehabilitation literature in SE (Santos, 2012; Chetkovich and Kunreuther, 2006) and cognate fields (Bandura, 1986; Conger and Kanungo, 1988; Sutherland and Cressey, 1960) and using religious terrorism as a context. Given the scarcity of research on empowerment strategies in SE and the absence of SE-related research on terrorism, this study sought to answer two research questions: Can religious terrorists be reprogrammed back to normality using social entrepreneurship? What empowerment and rehabilitation processes and mechanisms are associated with the disengagement of religious terrorists?
To address such questions, I undertook a longitudinal study involving ex-terrorists from the silicon valley of terrorism in Indonesia and their social venture and subsequently analyzed the data by employing qualitative analysis using R, coding the most pertinent themes, and developing visualization to make sense of the rich-and-thick data. This led to the discovery of the efficacy of culinary businesses and seven empowerment processes as effective mechanisms to “reprogram” terrorists. It reveals that terrorists are entrepreneurial beings whose “entrepreneurialism” could be redirected from that of ideological/religious to economic sphere. This study showed the therapeutic effects of social venturing through service work, share ownership, and construction of new self-identity, among others, as a sustainable option to reduce the threat of terrorism. Critically, this is an extreme yet interesting case and one of the first studies in SE that takes an “emic” view of terrorism and shows how individuals from clandestine organizations and ‘dark past’ could be transformed into positive change makers in the society. Together, the results led to a theory of therapeutic social venturing, which views social entrepreneurship as empowerment, liberation, and emancipation mechanisms that create social and economic value.

Research Area(s)

  • social entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship, terrorism, empowerment, rehabilitation

Citation Format(s)

Social entrepreneuring as mechanisms to empower and disengage religious terrorists. / Chandra, Yanto.
2015. Paper presented at 5th EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise, Helsinki, Finland.

Research output: Conference PapersRGC 32 - Refereed conference paper (without host publication)peer-review