Inside-Out or Outside-In?

My ultimate goal is to bridge the gap between the social sector and the corporate world, helping corporations to utilize social innovation to increase their profits.

To get me there, my tentative roadmap is to graduate, work for a consulting firm for a few years, get a Stanford MBA with an emphasis in social innovation, resume my career in the corporate world, and intrapreneurize within whichever company(ies) I work for. With that background, here is the question that has been on my mind as of late:

Should I prove myself as a corporate success and use that influence to enact social change within the organization I work for, or should I prove myself in the social sector and work with (not for) corporations to help them enact social change?

Stated more succinctly, is the best way to instill social change from the inside out or from the outside in? 

Both options have positive sides and negative sides.  For example, taking the corporate route could be beneficial because I would be “one of them,” meaning that I’d understand how corporations work, which would hopefully give me some type of ethos when floating balloons into the air. A corporate career would almost certainly be more financially beneficial as well. However, I’d likely be estranged from the social sector and could be working for the very organizations that cause many of society’s problems in the first place.

Benefits of taking the social sector route include being immersed in social innovation on a daily basis, possibly feeling more fulfilled, and building some ethos by being successful in creating solutions to social problems.  Then I could approach corporations with proven solutions and persuade them to implement them.  Negatives would be that the social sector is less financially rewarding and that corporations may view me as an outside socially-minded nitwit who merely wants to attack the corporate agenda, hug trees and solicit donations for my charity.

Just to clarify, the social-sector approach is not necessarily entrepreneurship, so this post isn’t about entrepreneurship vs. intrapreneurship per se.

Thoughts?

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