Beyond the Moral Portrayal of Social Entrepreneurs:

Brigitte Hoogendoorn, S Bacq, C Hartog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


This paper questions the taken-for-granted moral portrayal depicted in the extant literature and popular media of the devoted social entrepreneurial hero with a priori good ethical and moral credentials. We confront this somewhat ‘idealistic’ and biased portrayal with insights from unique large-scale data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2009 survey on social entrepreneurship covering Belgium and The Netherlands. Binary and multinomial logistic regressions indicate that the intention and dominance of perceived social value creation over economic value creation is indeed what makes social entrepreneurs unique. In contrast to the extant literature, however, our empirical investigation points at a reluctant attitude of social entrepreneurs toward entrepreneurship in terms of confidence in their skills to start and manage a business, their perception of entrepreneurship as a desirable career choice and their involvement in their activities. While the extant literature points at a strong entrepreneurial orientation as a source of ethical issues (e.g., mission drift, profit orientation), the main contribution of this study lies in the reverse observation: ethical issues are also likely to emanate from a frail entrepreneurial profile. We formulate empirically grounded propositions that may serve as a basis for theory-building and testing purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-718
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2014


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