Academic journal article Management Dynamics

Antecedents to Social Entrepreneurship Intentions: An Empirical Study in South Africa

Academic journal article Management Dynamics

Antecedents to Social Entrepreneurship Intentions: An Empirical Study in South Africa

Article excerpt


Social entrepreneurship has gained popularity in shifting market conditions, and can be viewed as a process that can serve as a catalyst for social change (Mair and Marti, 2006). Social entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in promoting initiatives and building social capital to address economic and social challenges in different regions and local communities (Urban, 2015; Jeffs, 2006).

Scholarly interest in social entrepreneurship is increasing as researchers look beyond entrepreneurship as only having an economic component or Schumpeterian purpose, where entrepreneurs spur innovation and speed up structural changes in an economy; they also recognise a social component of entrepreneurship (Bosma et al., 2012). Social entrepreneurship is an extended concept of entrepreneurship (Drucke, 1979), and has in recent decades gained momentum as a means to address social issues in a society (Nicholls, 2011). This is evident in philanthropic efforts, not-for-profit and non-governmental organisations, and corporate social initiatives, all of which are social interventions that attempt to address social inequities that may exist within society (2013;Dees,2001).

Entrepreneurship in its traditional form can be described as 'commercial' entrepreneurship: it is primarily driven by profits and performance, and its success is typically measured by financial returns (Zahra et al., 2009; Austin et al., 2006). 'Social' entrepreneurship, on the other hand, encompasses those activities and processes that discover and exploit opportunities in order to enhance social wealth by creating new ventures, or by managing existing organisations in an innovative manner (Zahra et al., 2009). Social entrepreneurs, virtually by definition, attack social problems caused by shortcomings in existing markets and social welfare systems (Nicholls, 2011; Mair and Marti, 2006;Nicholls,2005).

Social entrepreneurship and philanthropic studies are a relatively new area of study, and most studies have tended to focus on issues of definition with designs that rely on anecdotal evidence (Zahra et al., 2009; Mirabella et al., 2007). The term 'social entrepreneur' or 'social entrepreneurship' remains a poorly-defined construct (Zahra et al., 2009), and seems to have varying meanings depending on the context within which it is used (Seelos and Mair, 2005). Notwithstanding such definitional controversies, researchers have adopted a behavioural approach when analysing social entrepreneurship by focusing attention on the individual founder (Baierl et al., 2014; Urban, 2008; Urban, 2013; Weerawardena and Mort,2006).

Across a wide range of different behaviours, behavioural intentions have been identified as the most accurate predictor of actual behaviour (Ajzen, 1991). An intention is a representation of a future course of action to be performed. It is not simply an expectation of future actions, but a proactive commitment to bringing them about (Liñán, Nabi and Krueger, 2012). In recognising that intentionality is a state of mind directing a person's attention (and therefore experience and action) toward a specific goal in order to achieve something (Bird, 1988), it has been applied to the entrepreneurship domain insofar as intention energises, directs and sustains action toward entrepreneurial goals (Baum et al., 2007).

Intention-based models, such as Bird's (1988) model of entrepreneurial intentionality, Ajzen's (1991) theory of planned behaviour (TPB) model, and Shapero and Sokol's (1982) model of entrepreneurial event (SEE), all offer a well-developed theory base, and suggest that, to encourage enterprise creation, it is important first to increase perceptions of feasibility and desirability (Krueger et al., 2000). While the literature has primarily focused on direct relationships between entrepreneurial intentions and its determinants (Schlaegel and Koenig, 2014; Fitzsimmons and Douglas, 2011), little is currently known about the antecedents of beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions that influence perceptions of feasibility and desirability. …

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