The Person in Social Entrepreneurship

Ute Stephan, Andreana Drencheva
  • July 2017, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1002/9781118970812.ch10

Social Entrepreneurial Personality

What is it about?

This chapter presents a systematic review of 50 empirical studies on the social entrepreneurial personality. It aims to answer the question of who social entrepreneurs are in order to help understand why certain individuals but not others create social ventures and persist in their choice. The review findings reveal a focus on four distinct aspects of personality—motivations, traits, identities, and skills—and are based on three approaches: describing the personality of social entrepreneurs, comparing them to another group, and relating personality aspects to outcomes such as strategic choices or performance. The findings offer a multidimensional and refined account of who social entrepreneurs are. Social entrepreneurs are simultaneously driven by a range of motivations and values which include but are not limited to prosocial concerns. Certain extrinsic and intrinsic motivations are shared by commercial and social entrepreneurs. Social and commercial entrepreneurs also seem to exhibit similar entrepreneurial personality traits and benefit equally from transformational leadership skills. Emerging research points to further distinct social traits and identities. Important avenues for future research include paying attention to heterogeneity among types of social entrepreneurs, encouraging more theory-based research, research relating personality to personal and venture-level outcomes, research that considers more dynamic and contextualized perspectives, as well as research on a potential dark side of the social entrepreneurial personality.

Why is it important?

To understand why certain individuals but not others create social ventures and persist in their choice, and the role that social entrepreneurs' personality plays including their motivations, traits, identities, and skills.


Professor Ute Stephan
Aston University

To move towards an evidence-based understanding of the role of personality in social entrepreneurship

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