In Research


Year: 2020
Published in: Journal of Social Entrepreneurship
Cited as: Żur, A. (2020). “Entrepreneurial Identity and Social-Business Tensions – The Experience of Social Entrepreneurs.” Journal of Social Entrepreneurship: 1-24.


While much research has been devoted to the study of how social entrepreneurs manage social-business tensions inherent when pursuing dual missions, we know very little on what determines the ways that they address this challenge. Building on Fauchart and Gruber’s classification of three pure types of entrepreneurial social identities, this study applies a qualitative approach to explore the interplay between entrepreneurial identity and the handling of social-business tensions. The aim of the study is twofold: first, to identify social entrepreneurs’ self-perceived identity, and second, to explore its potential relationship with social-business tensions. Findings reveal that social entrepreneurs exhibit hybrid identities of all three pure identity types. In handling social business tensions, however, they tend to develop new meta-role identities, acting as intermediaries between their organisations and the market, and between actors from different sectors. Additionally, the study identified push and pull factors, which play a role in the gradual process of self-perceived identity modification. These findings offer fresh insights into the entrepreneurial identity and social entrepreneurship literature and expand our understanding of the micro-foundations of social entrepreneurs’ managerial choices.


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Future Research

1. Future analysis, especially in different countries, can make important contributions to opening the ‘black box’ of social entrepreneurs’ decision-making. Hopefully, this study provides a building block for a stream of social entrepreneurship research and suggests useful pathways for further work on how social entrepreneurs steer their way through multiple institutional environments, while pursuing social and commercial goals.