Connecting founder social identity with social entrepreneurial intentions

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Purpose: Despite recent advances in research on antecedents of social entrepreneurial intentions, founder social identity has rarely been part of the research effort. This paper aims to investigate how different types of founder social identity affect social entrepreneurial intentions (SE intentions). Design/methodology/approach: This study investigates how different types of founder social identity, such as Darwinians, Communitarians and Missionaries, affect SE intentions. Specifically, this study predicts that entrepreneurs with Darwinian identity would be less likely to form SE intentions, while those with Missionary and Communitarian identities would be more prone to form SE intentions. The hypotheses are tested on a sample of 725 individuals recruited using Amazon Mechanical Turk. Most of the hypotheses, except for Communitarian identity, are supported by the data analysis. The results contribute to the literature on founder social identity and SE intentions and demonstrate that founder social identity is one of the important antecedents of social entrepreneurial intentions. Findings: Two of the hypotheses were supported by the results. Specifically, this study found a positive relation between Missionary founder social identity (its locus of self-definition is “Impersonal-We”) and social entrepreneurial intentions. This research also confirms that Darwinian founder social identity (its locus of self-definition is “I”) has a negative impact on social entrepreneurial intentions. Originality/value: First, a person’s social identity has been largely overlooked in social entrepreneurship intention literature (Bacq and Alt, 2018; Hockerts, 2017; Zaremohzzabieh et al, 2019). The findings provide the empirical evidence that individual-level antecedents, especially one’s membership in a social group (i.e. social identity), exert a significant impact on the formation of SE intentions. Second, among the two types of founder social identity predicted to have a positive influence on SE intentions, only Missionary identity was found to have such a positive impact. The typical Communitarian locus of self-definition of “Personal We,” is less influential than the self-definition of the typical Missionary locus of “Impersonal We.” This might imply that not all types of feelings of belonging to a community have a positive impact on the formation and development of social entrepreneurial intentions. Finally, this study found that Darwinians are less likely to pursue social entrepreneurship although the definition of Darwinians is close to the definition of traditional entrepreneurs (e.g. profit/opportunity seekers). This may signify that the traditional concept of entrepreneurship may not be enough to explain different types of entrepreneurial motivations (e.g. social vs commercial entrepreneurship).

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Social Enterprise Journal

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