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Ruskin, Jennifer

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  • Paper Title: Creating Value for Others: an Exploration of Social Entrepreneurs’ Motives and Rewards
  • Department Affiliation: Marketing and Management
  • Supervisor's Names:
  • Associate Prof. Cynthia M. Webster
  • Richard Seymour

Key literature/theoretical perspective:

Entrepreneurs are catalysts for job creation, wealth creation and community development, so understanding their motivations is critical. Entrepreneurs experience both financial and social motivation, but the entrepreneurship literature tends to focus on financial motivation. Social entrepreneurs establish ventures primarily to create social value for target communities in need, so they offer an ideal context for exploring social motivations to create value.


What motivates social entrepreneurs to create value for themselves and others? What benefits do they receive from ventures that are not organised to provide financial returns?


We propose and evaluate a conceptual model for understanding social entrepreneurial motivations using data gathered from in-depth interviews with social entrepreneurs.


Results suggest that participants’ motivations are linked to three aspects of their commitment to the community in need: 1) identification with the target community, 2) a sense of obligation to the community and 3) a personal commitment to social justice. Respondents discuss both internal rewards, such as feeling part of a community, and external rewards, including monetary compensation and positive feedback. While social entrepreneurs seem to be both internally and externally motivated to achieve internal rewards, the importance of external rewards appears to be limited to the extent that they enable or reinforce continued satisfaction with the venture.


Social entrepreneurs, motivation, well-being.