Two Paths Diverged: Examining the Antecedents to Social Entrepreneurship

Michelle Shumate, Yannick Atouba, Katherine R. Cooper, Andrew Pilny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


This research examines the antecedents that motivate and prepare social entrepreneurs to begin social ventures. Drawing from in-depth interviews with 20 social entrepreneurs, this research reveals that there are two paths to social entrepreneurship: the activist path and the business path. Both activist and business social entrepreneurs were motivated by a family legacy or a transformative early adulthood experience as the moral basis for forming a social venture, and both suggested that prior work experience was instrumental in helping them launch their social venture. However, activist social entrepreneurs were likely to form their social venture as a continuation of their ongoing work on a social issue. In contrast, business social entrepreneurs’ first activity on a social issue was to form a social venture. This research suggests that these two different paths to social entrepreneurship result in different types of social ventures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-421
Number of pages18
JournalManagement Communication Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2014.


  • activism
  • entrepreneurship
  • nongovernment organizations
  • socialization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management


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