On the compatibility of benevolence and self-interest: Philanthropy and entrepreneurial orientation

Tomasz Mickiewicz, Arnis Sauka, Ute Stephan
  • International Small Business Journal Researching Entrepreneurship, May 2016, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0266242614555245

Benevolence, Self-Interest, and Entrepreneurial Orientation

What is it about?

This study contributes to emerging research on entrepreneurial philanthropy. It explores the philanthropy of owner-managers of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and investigates whether and why more entrepreneurially oriented (EO) SMEs are also more likely to be philanthropic. We find support for a positive link between EO and philanthropy in a representative sample of 270 Lithuanian SMEs controlling for alternative explanations. We highlight that philanthropy is relatively common amongst SME owner-managers, and thus complement existing research, which views philanthropy as sequentially following wealth generation. In line with our theorizing, further qualitative findings point to drivers of philanthropy beyond those considered in the dominant strategic-instrumental perspective. Building on social psychological theories of motivation, we argue and find that philanthropy can also be an expression of owner-managers altruistic values, and that these values can be compatible and even mutually-reinforcing with entrepreneurship. Our study is set in a transition economy, Lithuania, facilitating the analysis of heterogeneity in attitudes towards philanthropy.

Why is it important?

Possibly the most interesting claim we make is that some dose of altruism may be a factor of success in entrepreneurship. Other-regarding attitudes are closely related to openness and innovativeness, hence to dynamic entrepreneurship (as captured by the entrepreneurial orientation construct) as well.


Prof Tomasz Mickiewicz
Aston University

The work we've done on this paper made me think more seriously about values and the way they affect entrepreneurship. Schwartz work turned out to be a good framework to think about these issues.

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Ute Stephan and Prof Tomasz Mickiewicz