The new coalition government's Big Society agenda serves to add further weight to this.
As an adviser to social enterprises I have noticed that along with the welcomed rise of social enterprise and social entrepreneurs, the popularity of social enterprise as a model for business and its attraction from a financial point of view when you consider access to soft loan and grant funding and even venture capitalist opportunities, has attracted many people who are clearly not social entrepreneurs at all.
These people are like benefit claimants who make it their business to know the system so that they can access every state benefit that exists in the hope that they will never have to do an honest day’s work ever again.
They don't see social enterprise as a way of thinking or a value-based model for creating and running business. They see social enterprise as an opportunity to create a business that has a soft edge but the heart of a hard-edged commercial operation.
Let's face it, just about any business can claim to have social impact - "we sponsor the local football club", to have economic impact "we employ local people to keep our money in the local economy" and to have environmental impact - "we make use of public transport and renewable energy sources".
But that does not make any business a social enterprise by definition.
For many years I was involved in supporting organisations in achieving the Investors in People standard. Essentially, there were two kinds of clients I worked with. On the one hand there were businesses who clearly had a culture where people were seen as being the organisation's key asset. These businesses walked their talk and put money where their mouth was. They invested not only in training but in creating a working environment which brought the best out in people. For these businesses, the Investors in People accreditation was simply an external validation of the supportive culture which already existed.
The other type of client was the one who saw Investors in People as an opportunity. They needed it to win contracts. They saw it as a way in to new business. They may have felt they needed the accreditation in order to remain competitive in an industry in which their peers were chasing the same goals.
These organisations saw the acquisition of the Investors in People standard as just that - an award, an accolade, a badge on the wall. What was missing? The heart of the true Investor in People. They had all the right systems and processes. They may have ticked all the right boxes. Despite this, their staff were as miserable as sin. They felt neither celebrated nor valued.
I fear that Social Enterprise could go the same way if left unchecked; falling into two clear camps. The first being authentic social enterprises being driven by clear social aims. The second being a wolf in sheep's clothing, seeking the rewards of the badge without having the heart of a true social enterprise.
The dilemma of what makes a true social enterprise is not about whether they profess to hold fast to certain administrative details but whether the ethos and culture of the social entrepreneur runs through the business like the word 'Blackpool' runs through the stick of rock of the same name.