The person in social entrepreneurship: a systematic review of research on the social entrepreneurial personality

Ute Stephan, Andreana Drencheva

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


We present a systematic review of 50 empirical studies on the social entrepreneurial personality. We aim to answer ‘who social entrepreneurs are’ to help understand why certain individuals but not others create social ventures and persist in their choice. The review findings reveal a focus on four distinct aspects of personality: motivations, traits, identities, and skills; and are based on three approaches: describing the personality of social entrepreneurs, comparing them to another group, and relating personality aspects to outcomes such as strategic choices or performance. The findings offer a multi-dimensional and refined account of who social entrepreneurs are. Social entrepreneurs are simultaneously driven by a range of motivations and values which include but are not limited to prosocial concerns. Certain extrinsic and intrinsic motivations are shared by commercial and social entrepreneurs. Social and commercial entrepreneurs also seem to exhibit similar ‘entrepreneurial’ personality traits and benefit equally from transformational leadership skills. Emerging research points to further distinct ‘social traits’ and identities. Important avenues for future research include paying attention to heterogeneity among types of social entrepreneurs, encouraging more theory-based research, research relating personality to personal and venture-level outcomes, research that considers more dynamic and contextualized perspectives, as well as research on a potential dark side of the social entrepreneurial personality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWiley handbook of entrepreneurship
EditorsGorkan Ahmetoglu, Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Bailey Klinger, Tessa Karcisky
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-118-97083-6
ISBN (Print)978-1-118-97083-6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • entrepreneurship
  • social entrepreneurship
  • personality
  • leadership
  • values
  • traits
  • review
  • systematic review
  • identity


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