The early bird catches the worm: an empirical analysis of imprinting in social entrepreneurship

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Understanding the antecedents of social entrepreneurship is critical for unleashing the potential of social entrepreneurship and thus for tackling social problems. While research has provided valuable insights into imprinting of the conventional entrepreneur, research on differences between social and conventional entrepreneurship suggests that social entrepreneurs evolve differently. Using survey data of 148 social entrepreneurs, we draw on the concepts of imprinting and critical incident recognition as a framework for understanding how social entrepreneur’s childhood experiences and parental exposure to social entrepreneurship affect social entrepreneurial activity in adulthood. First, our results suggest that social entrepreneurs are imprinted by their childhood experiences but not by parental exposure to social entrepreneurship. Second, imprints tend to persist over time when they are linked to critical incidents regarding social entrepreneurship. These insights contribute to a deeper understanding of imprinting mechanisms in social entrepreneurship contexts and highlight the importance of making examples of social entrepreneurship tangible to children.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business Economics : JBE
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)127-150
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 03.2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Entrepreneurship - social entrepreneurship, Imprinting, Childhood, Critical incidents