Why Create Value for Others? An Exploration of Social Entrepreneurial Motives

Jennifer Ruskin*, Richard G. Seymour, Cynthia M. Webster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Social entrepreneurs create value for and with target communities in need. This paper responds to calls for research addressing social entrepreneurs’ drive to benefit others. We draw from psychology to augment the understanding of motives in entrepreneurship before conducting a phenomenon-driven, instrumental case study of social entrepreneurs’ motives. We find some emotions, such as entrepreneurial passion and frustration, lead to self-oriented motives, while sympathy and empathy are precursors for other-oriented motivations, such as altruism and social justice. This work provides a theoretical platform for future studies in entrepreneurial motivation that addresses the importance of nonfinancial motives and associated rewards for fostering engagement in the sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1037
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Small Business Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


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