In Research


Year: 2020
Published in: Industrial Marketing Management,2020,
Cited as: Halberstadt, J. et al. (2020) Social entrepreneurship orientation: Drivers of success for start-ups and established industrial firms. Industrial marketing management. [Online]


This study provides a theoretical, conceptual, and empirical insights into SEO. The authors examined the impact of social entrepreneurship orientation (SEO), a behavioral measure of the social entrepreneurship of the organization, on the social and financial performance of a sample of Austrian firms. This paper contributes to an understanding of the mechanisms by which an SEO affects firm performance and provide richer insights into the various aspects of performance.


Academic research into social entrepreneurship orientation (SEO) remains nascent, despite social entrepreneurship receiving increasing attention in both research and practice. This study of 308 industrial industry firms from Austria and Northern Macedonia contributes to closing these research gaps by investigating how SEO influences social entrepreneurial performance taking into account the performance consequences of heterogeneity in firms’ characteristics demonstrated by start-ups and established firms using multi-group structural equation modeling and fsQCA as methods of comparison. Combining person-centered and variable-centered methods, this study contributes by exploring how SEO influences social entrepreneurial performance and considering firms’ characteristics for both start-ups and established industrial firms. The study highlights key differences for start-ups and established firms. The development phase of a firm, thus, plays a key role when examining SEO dimensions. This study informs practices of individuals seeking to undertake a business start-up or owner/managers involved in the operation and management of established firms in a social entrepreneurship context. The findings will be of interest to the enterprise support community in tailoring funding and training support for social enterprises for both start-ups and established firms.


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Recommendations from this resource

Future Research

“1. Future reserach is required to explore Social entrepreneurship orientation in both start-up and established firm context.

2. Future research in emerging economy contexts would also be a welcome addition to this nascent literature.

3. Longitudinal research contrasting SEO behaviour from an international perspective would also offer novel insights.

4. It is suggested to integrate various national economies in future researh in order to analyze if the results still remain the same under different condiions.

5. Finally, when analyzing the SEO phenomenon at a variable level there is also argument for inclusion of further factors possibly influncing social entrepreneurship performance especially in terms of evaluating economic performance. This study offers more research opportunities of exploring the issue of self-perception of performance focussing on alternative ways of capturing social entrepreneurial performance , especially quantifying social impact.

Support Organisations

1. For start-ups we, e.g. see proactiveness as relevant for the social outcome. This can lead to various formats focusing on proactive behavior, e.g. strategically searching for social
entrepreneurial opportunities or designing idea generating concepts or concrete events that include the preemptive occupation of resources with social entrepreneurial relevance.

2. Study results also indicate that, for both start-ups and incumbents, socialness has a positive impact on economic performance. This is important for motivating and supporting social entrepreneurial activities, since it underlines that a social orientation is not opposed to financial orientation, but can even push and strengthen economic action (as a basis for social return). Knowing this can lead to different forms of integrating and fostering socialness as a motivational factor for both social and financial results. Considering this may also lead to implications for social entrepreneurship education.

3. It may also lead to new approaches in entrepreneurship education by taking into account foresighted and strategic thinking as another important social entrepreneurial competence. Results show that one should not concentrate on all or single Social Entrepreneurship Orientation dimensions, but their interplay.
There is a need for examining the specific circumstances and the individuals’ personality before focusing on a certain (combination of) SEO dimension(s). SEO, thus, can have many faces and still lead to social as well as economic success. Practitioners, thus, need to make sure, that they are aware of this and take into account which combinations are promising under which circumstances and how they can counterbalance each other. “