The literature on the motivation for social entrepreneurship focuses mainly on prosocial attitude. Very little research has been undertaken to understand the innovation and profit elements of social entrepreneurship. This study performs a conjoint experiment to reveal the importance of these three elements as motivators for social entrepreneurship, and then employs fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to identify configurations of motives, self-efficacies, and personal conditions that culminate in social entrepreneurial intention (SEI). Our results reveal asymmetric relationships between SEI and prosocial attitude, innovation attitude, and entrepreneurial self-efficacy, while profit motivation may be either high or low for SEI.
The three “main pillars” of the social entrepreneurship literature are prosocial motivation, innovation, and profit-making (Lepoutre, Justo, Terjesen, & Bosma, 2013; Newbert & Hill, 2014). Prosocial motivation has captured the greater part of scholarly attention (see, e.g. Austin, Stevenson, & Wei-Skillern, 2006; Bacq & Alt, 2018; Choi & Majumdar, 2014; Dacin, Dacin, & Tracey, 2011; Dees, 1998, 2017; Kickul & Lyons, 2016; Littlewood & Holt, 2018; Mair & Marti, 2006; Peredo & McLean, 2006), while relatively little attention has been paid to the profitmaking and innovation motivations of social entrepreneurs (Miller, Grimes, McMullen, & Vogus, 2012; Newbert & Hill, 2014; Short, Moss, & Lumpkin, 2009). Regarding profit motivation, scholars have argued whether or not social entrepreneurs do or should make profit (Bacq & Eddleston, 2018; Battilana & Lee, 2014; De Drue & Nauta, 2009; Haigh, Walker, Bacq, & Kickul, 2015; Lumpkin, Moss, Gras, Kato, & Amezcua, 2013; Renko, 2013; Santos, Pache, & Birkholz, 2015; Zahra, Gedajlovic, Neubaum, & Shulman, 2009). Regarding innovation, some social entrepreneurs are demonstrably innovative (Defourny & Nyssens, 2010; Phillips, Lee, Ghobadian, O’Regan, & James, 2015; Seelos & Mair, 2005; Williams & Nadin, 2011), while others exhibit little or no innovativeness (Newbert & Hill, 2014; Shane, Locke, & Collins, 2003; Zahra et al., 2009). This diversity of profit and innovation outcomes indicates that some social entrepreneurs are more strongly motivated to pursue profit and/or innovation outcomes than are others, yet there are few theoretical or empirical studies of this phenomenon.