Social entrepreneurs & compassion

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March 2, 2015

Venturing for Others with Heart and Head: How Compassion Encourages Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship has emerged as a complex yet promising organizational form in which market-based methods are used to address seemingly intractable social issues, but its motivations remain undertheorized. Research asserts that compassion may supplement traditional self-oriented motivations in encouraging social entrepreneurship. We draw on research on compassion and prosocial mo-tivation to build a model of three mechanisms (integrative thinking, prosocial cost-benefit analysis, and commitment to alleviating others’ suffering) that trans-form compassion into social entrepreneurship, and we identify the institutional conditions under which they are most likely to do so. We conclude by discussing the model’s contribution to and implications for the positive organizational schol-arship literature, entrepreneurship literature, and social entrepreneurship literature.

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