Owing to the contextual challenges, human service professionals (HSP) are creating social value (SV) for diverse vulnerable population groups through social innovation. This qualitative exploratory study investigates the nature of SV created by 14 HSPs, representing a diverse range of human service organizations (HSOs), and examines ‘why’ and ‘how’ they innovate. In addition, the study examines HSPs’ current understanding and practices related to social entrepreneurship (SE). The study findings highlight that increased accountability and new funding opportunities challenged HSPs to innovate. HSPs created SV by addressing new unmet needs, developing new collaborations, and employing alternative marketing strategies, thereby ensuring the financial sustainability of their programs and organizations, and promoting social and economic justice. Different understandings of SE were voiced based on the educational backgrounds of HSPs. Without formal training in SE, HSPs trained in social work appeared to use various components of the SE process, though in a haphazard fashion compared to those with a non-social work academic training. We suggest that the graduate curriculum across various disciplines should formally include principles and behaviors related to social innovation and entrepreneurship. Finally, more research is needed to understand and describe how HSPs create SV in HSOs.
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