Would-be social entrepreneurs need more than a kind heart

February 14, 2018

To want to be a social entrepreneur, empathy is not enough for millennials. They need to feel confident in their ability to solve social problems and feel valued by the people they want to help, according to new research published in the Journal of Business Venturing.

The study examined key character traits of approximately 300 students undertaking modules on social entrepreneurship as part of wider university courses, and found that while not all kind-hearted individuals consider the idea of becoming a social entrepreneur attractive, those that do are the ones who feel confident of making a difference, and who feel valued in their interactions with potential beneficiaries.

The researchers questioned participants at two different stages on their courses, several weeks apart, on elements such as perspective-taking, empathic concern, social entrepreneurial self-efficacy, social worth, and their social entrepreneurial intentions.

The study found that self-efficacy has a strong positive effect on whether someone is intending to become a social entrepreneur, as does a sense of social worth. In addition, the study found that both self-efficacy and social worth explain how empathy translates into social entrepreneurial intentions.

Social entrepreneurship is an attempt to use a business to solve social issues. Examples include D.Light Design, which makes low-cost lights sold in areas without reliable electricity, or Jamie Oliver's restaurant Fifteen, which employs chefs from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Dr Elisa Alt, co-author of the study and Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Planning at Anglia Ruskin University said: "We have long known that empathy plays a big part in social entrepreneurship, especially in comparison to traditional entrepreneurship, which tends to have a self-oriented motivation. But we cannot assume that every kind-hearted person will want to become a social entrepreneur. Our study is among the first to shed light on how individuals actually channel their empathy into careers in social entrepreneurship.

"Our focus on university students also offers an interesting perspective on a generation that is often portrayed in paradoxical ways. Millennials are either generation 'me me me', or the generation that is seeking meaning through a stronger sense of social responsibility. Our study paints a more nuanced picture of how they go about forming career intentions.

"With millennials currently comprising 35% of the UK workforce, and set to represent 50% of the global workforce by 2020, our findings offer practical insights for social entrepreneurship educators, as well as potential employers interested in sparking 'social intrapreneurship', and shaping this generation's involvement in social innovation."

Millennials are considered to be people who reached young adulthood in the early 21st Century.

Anglia Ruskin University

Related Empathy Articles from Brightsurf:

Empathy and perspective taking: How social skills are built
Being able to feel empathy and to take in the other person's perspective are two abilities through which we understand what is going on in the other's mind.

Empathy may be in the eye of the beholder
Do we always want people to show empathy? Not so, said researchers from the University of California, Davis.

Empathy exacerbates discussions about immigration
Discussions about immigration are heated, even antagonistic. But what happens when supporters and opponents undertake to show more empathy?

Empathy prevents COVID-19 spreading
The more empathetic we are, the more likely it is that we will keep our distance and use face masks to prevent coronavirus spreading.

Binge-drinkers' brains have to work harder to feel empathy for others
New research shows that binge-drinkers' brains have to put more effort into trying to feel empathy for other people in pain.

Make the best of bad reviews by leveraging consumer empathy
When confronted with unfair negative reviews, firms can strategically leverage consumer empathy and benefit from potential downstream consequences.

Learning empathy as a care giver takes more than experience
Research among nursing students shows that past experience living in poverty or volunteering in impoverished communities, does not sufficiently build empathy towards patients who experience poverty.

Study finds empathy can be detected in people whose brains are at rest
UCLA researchers have found that it is possible to assess a person's ability to feel empathy by studying their brain activity while they are resting rather than while they are engaged in specific tasks.

Empathy for perpetrators helps explain victim blaming in sexual harassment
Men's empathy for other men who sexually harass women may help explain why they are more likely to blame victims, new research suggests.

Researchers suggest empathy be a factor in medical school admissions
The national norms can help to distinguish between two applicants with similar academic qualifications, and identify students who might need additional educational remedies to bolster their level of empathy.

Read More: Empathy News and Empathy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.