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Purpose- This paper contributes to research in social entrepreneurship by introducing a typology that describes four distinct types of social entrepreneurs based on the nature of their lives and career experiences and the scope of their social engagement.

Design/methodology/approach- In order to build a typology of social entrepreneurs, inductive profile analysis and archival research design approaches were used. A large variety of social entrepreneur profiles that are available in prominent social entrepreneurship organizations such as Ashoka Foundation, Echoing Green, Schwab Foundation and Skoll Foundation were examined.

Findings- Using four types of social entrepreneurs from the typology, the authors developed a number of predictions as to how social entrepreneurs with an activist background may benefit more in the short term but possibly struggle in the long term given their attachment to their venture’s “original” cause and lack of corporate/business experience.

Originality-By developing a typology of social entrepreneurs and discussing the implications of this typology for post-launch social venture performance, the paper advances the current understanding of social entrepreneurs and the performance of their ventures. Additionally, by focusing on social entrepreneurs as agents of social change, this paper sheds some light on who these entrepreneurs are, what kind of life and career experiences they had and what motivates them to engage in social entrepreneurship.


© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited. Original published version available at

Publication Title

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development





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