In Research, Skills for Social Entrepreneurship


Year: 2018
Published in: International Small Business Journal: Researching Entrepreneurship, 36: 220-241.
Cited as: Clark, K. D., Newbert, S. L., & Quigley, N. R. 2018. The motivational drivers underlying for-profit venture cre- ation: Comparing social and commercial entrepreneurs. International Small Business Journal: Researching Entrepreneurship, 36: 220-241.


Despite the increase in scholarship on social entrepreneurship over the years, there is a lack of large-scale empirical research from which generalizations about social entrepreneurs can be made. As such, our understanding of these individuals is limited. In particular, we know little about the drivers motivating social entrepreneurs in their quest to create for-profit ventures and whether they differ from those of commercial entrepreneurs. In response to a call to investigate the possibility of such differences, we analyse data from Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics II (PSED II) and find evidence to suggest that nascent entrepreneurs seeking to create for-profit social ventures have higher levels of entrepreneurial self-efficacy and more ambitious goals than their commercial counterparts. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for academics and practitioners.


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Social Entrepreneurs

Given the above challenges, coupled with the high failure rates of emerging firms, in general (Kirchhoff, 1994), practicing social entrepreneurs would be unwise to undertake the task of creating a new organization without believing that they can and will succeed. Thus, prior to undertaking such an arduous task, social entrepreneurs should evaluate their experiences, innate abilities, and confidence in themselves in order to ascertain their level of entrepreneurial self-efficacy. It is important for nascent social entrepreneurs to remain grounded in reality in order to make a true difference in the world. Only if they are able to conclude from a clear-eyed assessment that they can and will succeed, are they likely to see their ideas come to fruition and, in turn, make an appreciable difference in the world. In light of these findings, practicing social entrepreneurs would be wise to complement their confidence in themselves as entrepreneurs and their high goals with an eye on the economic health of their organizations. It may be that social entrepreneurs who can combine their long-term visions for societal change with their own self-efficacy and ambitious short-term sales goals may be extremely well-poised to create and grow their organizations.

Future Research

1) Future research could examine the entire motivational process of social and commercial entrepreneurs – from underlying values and long-term vision to new venture emergence and success – in order to identify more ways in which the process may differ with respect to the two groups.
2) None have sought to examine whether and to what degree the motivations of social entrepreneurs differ from their commercial counterparts.
3) Future research could integrate these recent developments in motivation theory with a further examination of how and why commercial and social entrepreneurs might have different levels of self-efficacy and goals in order to develop a more comprehensive causal, explanatory model. This could also shed some light on whether the underlying motivational processes are similar or different for commercial and social entrepreneurs.