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To Be or Not to Be a Social Entrepreneur: Motivational Drivers amongst American Business Students



Objective: The objective of this article is to investigate the process of motivational needs influencing the intent of potential future social entrepreneurs.

Research Design & Methods:California, Bay Area business students were administered a survey combining commercial entrepreneurship models and adding factors of motivation. Two stages of statistical analysis were performed based on the process and content theories of motivation. We used structural equation modelling to validate the model and paired samples t-test analysis to examine the differences between the motives underlying social entrepreneurship intentions.

Findings:202 out of 364 students reported social entrepreneurial intentions. For the process-based motives, perceived feasibility and perceived desirability to start a social enterprise as well as exposure to entrepreneurship are significant predictors of students’ intention to form a social enterprise. In addition, perceived feasibility is determined by entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial self-efficacy, and perceived desirability is determined by students’ desire for self-realisation and autonomy. For the content-based motives, the principal-component analysis indicates that students are motivated by the need for achievement and independence.

Implications & Recommendations:The findings provide insights into the formation of social entrepreneurial intentions as well practical implications for how to motivate future social entrepreneurs.

Contribution & Value Added: The study empirically shows the motives influencing a student’s intent to form a social enterprise.


social entrepreneurship, motivation, intent formation, social entre-preneurial curriculum, entrepreneurial curriculum


Author Biography

Marieshka Barton

Department of Business Administration

Renata Schaefer

Department of Business Administration

Professor of Management and International Business


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