Purpose: This paper has two interconnected objectives. The first is to provide a reconceptualisation of social value creation as social constraint alleviation. The second is to respond to the call put forward by Giuliani and Macchi (2014) to produce synergies between bodies of literature exploring the development impact of businesses. The paper focuses on ideas from the global value chain/global production networks (GVC/GPN), business and human rights, corporate social responsibility (CSR), international business (IB) and (social) entrepreneurship literatures. Design/methodology/approach: The paper offers a reconceptualisation of social value creation by building on the synergies, complementarities, and limitations of existing concepts identified through the literature review. Findings: The reconceptualisation of social value creation put forward in this paper contributes to the literature in the following way. It offers a useful and clear definition of the term 'social' (cf. Devinney, 2009), and it attends to the limitations of the constraint concept as put forward by Ted London and his collaborators (eg. London, 2011). Furthermore, it sketches out the basic ideas of a two-system approach to allow for the differentiation between symptom treatment and root cause alleviation. Finally, it offers a refinement of Wettstein's (2012) proposed capability-based remedial action concept. The paper furthermore proposes that there are three distinct ways in which businesses generally respond to social constraints. Originality/value: The paper illustrates how the redefined concept of social value creation can connect different bodies of literature and help make sense of existing empirical results, without engaging in definitional debates.