Skip to main content

The Social-Entrepreneurship Advantage: An Experimental Study of Social Entrepreneurship and Perceptions of Nonprofit Effectiveness

Abstract

A common assertion in the nonprofit literature is that nonprofit organizations can become more efficient, effective, and sustainable by embracing social entrepreneurship in their operational and strategic posture. In this article, we examine whether the mere label of social entrepreneurship results—with no actual organizational differences—in an increase in positive attributions associated with a nonprofit organization, an effect we call the social entrepreneurship bias. We experimentally test for the existence of a social entrepreneurship bias by examining how the label of social entrepreneurship alters how people judge a nonprofit’s effectiveness and decide how to allocate scarce donation funds.

Résumé

Une affirmation courante dans la documentation sur le secteur à but non lucratif consiste à dire que les organisations à but non lucratif peuvent devenir plus efficientes, efficaces et durables en adoptant un entrepreneuriat social pour leur situation opérationnelle et stratégique. Dans cet article, nous étudions si la simple étiquette d’entrepreneuriat social a pour effet—sans différences organisationnelles réelles—une augmentation des attributions positives associées à une organisation à but non lucratif, effet que nous appelons préjugé sur l’entrepreneuriat social. Nous testons de façon expérimentale l’existence d’un préjugé sur l’entrepreneuriat social en examinant comment l’étiquette d’entrepreneuriat social modifie la façon dont les gens jugent l’efficacité d’une organisation à but non lucratif et décident de la destination de dons rares.

Zusammenfassung

In der Literatur zum Nonprofit-Bereich wird allgemein behauptet, dass gemeinnützige Organisationen effizienter, effektiver und nachhaltiger sein können, wenn sie soziales Unternehmertum in ihr betriebliches und strategisches Konzept einbeziehen. In diesem Beitrag untersuchen wir, ob die bloße Bezeichnung als soziales Unternehmen - ohne dass tatsächliche organisatorische Unterschiede bestehen - zu vermehrten positiven Assoziationen, die gemeinnützigen Organisation beigemessen werden, führt; ein Effekt, den wir als Voreingenommenheit aufgrund von sozialem Unternehmertum bezeichnen. Wir testen experimentell das Vorhandensein einer Voreingenommenheit aufgrund von sozialem Unternehmertum, indem wir prüfen, inwiefern sich die Bezeichnung als soziales Unternehmen darauf auswirkt, wie Leute die Effektivität einer gemeinnützigen Organisation bewerten und entscheiden, wie sie knappe Spendengelder vergeben.

Resumen

Una afirmación común en el material publicado sobre las asociaciones sin ánimo de lucro es que dichas organizaciones pueden llegar a ser más eficientes, efectivas y sostenibles adoptando el emprendimiento social en su posición operativa y estratégica. En el presente artículo, examinamos si la mera etiqueta de emprendimiento social da lugar - con ninguna diferencia organizativa real - a un aumento en las atribuciones positivas asociadas a una organización sin ánimo de lucro, un efecto que denominamos el sesgo del emprendimiento social. Probamos experimentalmente la existencia de un sesgo del emprendimiento social examinando cómo la etiqueta de emprendimiento social altera cómo la gente juzga la efectividad de una organización sin ánimo de lucro y decide cómo asignar donaciones escasas.

摘要

在关于非营利性组织的文献中,学者们通常认为,通过在运营与战略部署等方面融入社会企业精神(social entrepreneurship),能够提高非营利性组织的效率,改善其服务能力。本文中,我们探究纯粹依靠社会企业家精神标签——没有事实上的组织差异——是否能使得与非营利性组织相关联的正面属性有所增加(我们称该种效应为社会企业家精神偏倚(social entrepreneurship bias))。通过检验社会企业家精神标签是如何改变人们对非营利性组织的效能的判断的,以及如何改变人们关于如何分配稀缺捐赠资金的决定的。

ملخص

التأكيد الشائع في الأدب الغير ربحي هو أن المنظمات الغير ربحية يمكن أن تصبح أكثر كفاءة وفعالية وإستدامة من خلال تبني المشاريع الإجتماعية في وضعهم التشغيلي والإستراتيجي. في هذه المقالة ندرس إذا كان مجرد تسمية نتائج المبادرة بالأعمال الإجتماعية - مع عدم وجود فروق تنظيمية فعلية - إلى زيادة في الصفات الإيجابية المرتبطة بمنظمة غير ربحية، لها تأثير نسميه التحيز لمبادرة المشاريع الإجتماعية. نحن نختبر تجريبيا˝ وجود تحيز للمشاريع الإجتماعية من خلال دراسة كيف تسمية المشاريع الإجتماعية يغير كيف يحكم الناس على فعالية المنظمة الغير ربحية ويقررون كيفية تخصيص أموال التبرع الشحيحة.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Andersson, F. O. (2009). The nonprofit board as an entrepreneurial agent. Paper presented at the 2009 Nonprofit Governance Conference, Kansas City, MO, April 23–24.

  • Andersson, F. O. (2011). Social entrepreneurship as fetish. Nonprofit Quarterly, 18(2), 64–68.

    Google Scholar 

  • Austin, J., Stevenson, H., & Wei-Skillern, J. (2006). Social and commercial entrepreneurship: Same, different, or both? Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 30(1), 1–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Boschee, J. (2006). Migrating from innovation to entrepreneurship: How nonprofits are moving toward sustainability and self-sufficiency. Minneapolis: Encore Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bozeman, B., & Scott, P. (1992). Laboratory experiments in public policy and management. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 2(3), 293–313.

  • Bretschneider, S., Straussman, J. J., & Mullins, D. (1988). Do revenue forecasts influence budget setting? A small group experiment. Policy Sciences, 21(4), 305–325.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brinckerhoff, P. (2000). Social entrepreneurship: The art of mission based venture development. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Caruana, A., Ewing, M. T., & Ramaseshan, B. (2002). Effects of some environmental challenges and centralization on the entrepreneurial orientation and performance of public sector entities. Service Industries Journal, 22(2), 43–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coombes, S. M., Morris, M. H., Allen, J. A., & Webb, J. W. (2011). Behavioural orientations of non-profit boards as a factor in entrepreneurial performance: Does governance matter? Journal of Management Studies, 48(4), 829–856.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dacin, P. A., Dacin, M. T., & Matear, M. (2010). Social entrepreneurship: Why we don’t need a new theory and how we move forward from here. Academy of Management Perspectives, 24(3), 37–57.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dacin, M. T., Dacin, P. A., & Tracey, P. (2011). Social entrepreneurship: A critique and future directions. Organization Science, 22(5), 1203–1213.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dart, R. (2004a). “Being “business-like” in a nonprofit organization: A grounded and inductive typology. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 33, 290–310.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dart, R. (2004b). The legitimacy of social enterprise. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 14, 411–424.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Davidsson, P. (2006). Nascent entrepreneurship: Empirical studies and developments. Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship, 2(1), 1–76.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dees, G., Emerson, J., & Economy, P. (2001). Enterprising nonprofits: A toolkit for social entrepreneurs. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dey, P. (2006). The rhetoric of social entrepreneurship: Paralogy and new language games in academic discourse. In C. Steyaert & D. Hjorth (Eds.), Entrepreneurship as social change: A third movements of entrepreneurship. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    Google Scholar 

  • Edwards, M. (2008). Just another emperor? The myths and realities of philanthrocapitalism. New York: Demos and the Young Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eikenberry, A. M. (2009). Refusing the market a democratic discourse for voluntary and nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 38(4), 582–596.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eikenberry, A. M., & Kluver, J. D. (2004). The marketization of the nonprofit sector: Civil society at risk? Public Administration Review, 64, 132–140.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elkington, J., & Hartigan, P. (2008). The power of unreasonable people: How social entrepreneurs create markets that change the world. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Forbes, D. P. (1998). Measuring the unmeasurable: Empirical studies of nonprofit organizations effectiveness from 1977 to 1997. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 27(2), 183–202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Foster, W., & Bradach, J. (2005). Should nonprofits seek profits? Harvard Business Review, 83(2), 92–100.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frese, M., Bausch, A., Schmidt, P., Rauch, A., & Kabst, R. (2012). Evidence-based entrepreneurship: Cumulative science, action principles, and bridging the gap between science and practice. Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship, 8(1), 1–62.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Goerke, J. (2003). Taking the quantum leap: Nonprofits are now in business. An Australian perspective. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 8(4), 317–327.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hager, M., Wilson, S., Pollak, T., & Rooney, P. (2003). Response rates for mail surveys of nonprofit organizations: A review and empirical test. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 32, 252–267.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Herman, R. D. (1990). Methodological issues in studying the effectiveness of nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 19(3), 293–306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Herman, R. D., & Renz, D. O. (2008). Advancing nonprofit organizational effectiveness research and theory: Nine theses. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 18, 399–415.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hill, T. L., Kothari, T. H., & Shea, M. (2010). Patterns of meaning in the social entrepreneurship literature: A research platform. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 1(1), 5–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Keller, E. W., Dato-on, M. C., & Shaw, D. (2010). NPO branding: Preliminary lessons from major players. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 15(2), 105–121.

    Google Scholar 

  • Keller, K. L., & Lehmann, D. R. (2006). Brands and branding: Research findings and future priorities. Marketing Science, 25(6), 740–759.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kim, M., & Van Ryzin, G. G. (2013). Impact of government funding on donations to arts organizations: A survey experiment. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. doi:10.1177/0899764013487800.

  • Laidler-Kylander, N., Quelch, J. A., & Simonin, B. L. (2007). Building and valuing global brands in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 17, 253–277.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lecy, J. D., Schmitz, H. P., & Swedlund, H. (2012). Non-governmental and not-for-profit organizational effectiveness: A modern synthesis. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 23(2), 434–457.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Light, P. C. (2008). The search for social entrepreneurship. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lin, W., & Van Ryzin, G. G. (2012). Web and mail surveys: An experimental comparison of methods for nonprofit research. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41, 1014–1028.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lindgren, M., & Packendorff, J. (2009). Social constructionism and entrepreneurship: Basic assumptions and consequences for theory and research. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, 15(1), 25–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lindquist, E. F. (1953). Design and analysis of experiments in psychology and education. Oxford, England: Houghton Mifflin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mair, J. (2011). Social entrepreneurship: Taking stock and looking ahead. In A. Fayolle & H. Matlay (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Social Entrepreneurship. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, D., & Hartwick, J. (2002). Spotting management fads. Harvard Business Review, 80(10), 26–27.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morris, M. H., Coombes, S., Schindehutte, M., & Allen, J. (2007). Antecedents and outcomes of entrepreneurship in a non-profit context: Theoretical and empirical insights. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 13(4), 1–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Morris, M. H., Webb, J. W., & Franklin, R. J. (2011). Understanding the manifestation of entrepreneurial orientation in the nonprofit context. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 35(5), 947–971.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Morton, R. B., & Williams, K. C. (2010). Experimental political science and the study of causality: From nature to the lab. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Moynihan, D. P. (2006). What do we talk about when we talk about performance? Dialogue theory and performance budgeting. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 16(2), 151–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Parker, S. C. (2005). The economics of entrepreneurship: What we know and what we don’t. Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship, 1(1), 1–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pearce, J. A., I. I., Fritz, D. A., & Davis, P. S. (2010). Entrepreneurial orientation and the performance of religious congregations as predicted by rational choice theory. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 34(1), 219–248.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Short, J. C., Moss, T. W., & Lumpkin, G. T. (2009). Research in social entrepreneurship: Past contributions and future opportunities. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 3(2), 161–194.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Singleton, R. A., & Straits, B. C. (2005). Approaches to social research. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Skloot, E. (1988). The nonprofit entrepreneur. Creating ventures to earn income. New York: The Foundation Center.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tranquada, W., Baker, J., & Pepin, J. (2007). Social sector entrepreneurship and innovation (2nd ed.). East Orange, NJ: Aperio.

    Google Scholar 

  • Van de Walle, S., & Van Ryzin, G. G. (2011). The order of questions in a survey on citizen satisfaction with public services: Lessons from a split-ballot experiment. Public Administration, 89, 1436–1450.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Voss, Z. G., Voss, G. B., & Moorman, C. (2005). An empirical examination of the complex relationships between entrepreneurial orientation and stakeholder support. European Journal of Marketing, 39, 1132–1150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weber, R. A., & Camerer, C. F. (2006). “Behavioral experiments” in economics. Experimental Economics, 9(3), 187–192.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weerawardena, J., McDonald, R. E., & Mort, G. S. (2010). Sustainability of nonprofit organizations: An empirical investigation. Journal of World Business, 45, 346–356.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weerawardena, J., & Mort, G. S. (2006). Investigating social entrepreneurship: A multidimensional model. Journal of World Business, 41, 21–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Willems, J., Boenigk, S., & Jegers, M. (2014). Seven trade-offs in measuring nonprofit performance and effectiveness. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations. doi:10.1007/s11266-014-9446-1.

  • Young, D. R. (1999). Nonprofit management studies in the United States: Current developments and future prospects. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 5(1), 13–23.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zahra, S. A., Gedajlovic, E., Neubaum, D. O., & Shulman, J. M. (2009). A typology of social entrepreneurs: Motives, search processes and ethical challenges. Journal of Business Venturing, 24(5), 519–532.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Fredrik O. Andersson.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Andersson, F.O., Self, W. The Social-Entrepreneurship Advantage: An Experimental Study of Social Entrepreneurship and Perceptions of Nonprofit Effectiveness. Voluntas 26, 2718–2732 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-014-9543-1

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-014-9543-1

Keywords

  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Experiment
  • Nonprofit effectiveness