Macquarie University
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Giving selflessly and building oneself: a study of social entrepreneurial motives and rewards

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posted on 2022-03-28, 01:07 authored by Jennifer Ruskin
Social entrepreneurs employ market-based methods to fill gaps in the provision of social goods or services. In the growing field of academic research on social entrepreneurship, surprisingly few studies investigate the factors that drive social entrepreneurs to create value for others. This thesis presents two qualitative studies and one quantitative study that examine motives experienced by social entrepreneurs and the rewards they receive. The first two studies are based on a qualitative, phenomenon-driven case study exploring the motives and rewards for social entrepreneurship. In contrast to the social entrepreneurship literature, findings from these studies suggest that social entrepreneurs experience both self- and other-oriented motives. Further, the distinct emotions of passion and frustration precede self-oriented motivation, while the emotions of sympathy and empathy precede other-oriented motivation. Having a successful venture is a key reward for social entrepreneurs and awareness that the venture is achieving social aims contributes to social entrepreneurs’ experience of personal growth and well-being. Although financial rewards are not primary drivers of social entrepreneurship, there seems to be a threshold of financial returns, below which it is difficult to sustain engagement in the venture. The third study is a quantitative enquiry of social entrepreneurial motivation. Data from an online survey of 193 social and commercial entrepreneurs show strong, direct relationships between self-oriented motivation and value placed on financial rewards, and between other-oriented motivation and the intrinsic rewards of hedonic and eudaimonic happiness. Moreover, entrepreneurs in ventures with high social emphasis place more importance on intrinsic rewards. As social entrepreneurship becomes an increasingly important part of the economy’s third sector, it is critical to understand what drives and maintains engagement in social ventures. Having a better understanding of social entrepreneurial motivation may enablesocial entrepreneurs to build satisfying ventures that sustain engagement. From an academic perspective, new frameworks for understanding social entrepreneurial motivation contribute to this emerging field of research.This thesis presents two qualitative studies and one quantitative study that examine motives experienced by social entrepreneurs and the rewards they receive.


Table of Contents

Ch. 1. Thesis introduction -- Ch. 2. Introduction to Study I -- Study I -- Conclusion to Study I -- Ch. 3. Introduction to Study II -- Study II -- Conclusion to Study II -- Ch. 4. Introduction to Study IV -- Study IV -- Conclusion to Study IV -- Ch. 5. Thesis conclusion.


Includes bibliographical references Thesis by publication.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Marketing and Management

Department, Centre or School

Department of Marketing and Management

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Cynthia M. Webster

Additional Supervisor 1

Erik Lundmark

Additional Supervisor 2

Richard Seymour


Copyright Jennifer Ruskin 2014. Copyright disclaimer:




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