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Research on the Determinants of the Internationalization Strategy of Social Entrepreneurship

Author: ZhaoLiZuo
Tutor: Shaker A.Zahra; GuQingLiang
School: Donghua University
Course: Business management
Keywords: social entrepreneurship internationalization determinants strategicchoice theory pro-social behavior theory personality trait theory
CLC: F272
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2014
Downloads: 5
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Today, social entrepreneurship is attracting considerable interests among scholars as well as practitioners around the globe. Social ventures came up as a new way to address the unmet social needs/problems and achieve social goals in both developed and developing countries. By creating social ventures, social entrepreneurs donate themsevels to solving various social problems to make social value (e.g. problems in such area as education, child, healthcare, and environment, etc.). One interesting phenomenon overlooked in this field is that:To solve social needs in multiple countries, different social entrepreneurs are subject to different decisions on the internationalization strategy of their ventures; and more and more some social ventures are highly motivated to solve social problems internationally with the resource constraints, which is called "international social entrepreneurship" phenomenon in this dissertation.In order to conduct further research on international social entrepreneurship as well as strengthen strategic management in the process of internationalizing a social venture, the first essential issue is to uncover the determinants of international social entrepreneurship. Given that the process of social entrepreneurship is driven by social entrepreneurs, who are the social change agents playing the leading role to create social values, the first research question in this dissertation is:Why do some social entrepreneurs have the motivation to internationalize their ventures to address the social problems abroad? That is, what factors motivate them to do so? In practice, not all social entrepreneurs with strong motivation will successfully internationalize their ventures, the second follow-up question is asked:Why some social ventures cannot internationalize and make social impacts in other countries? What factors stop them from going international?Centering on these two questions, this dissertation develops its theoretical framework based on Child’s Strategic Choice Theory, where social entrepreneurs, environment, and the relationship between social entrepreneurs and environment are the three aspects of factors. To test this framework, two types of empirical study have been applied in this research, a quantitative survey study and a qualitative case study. The key findings of this dissertation include:First, compared with female social entrepreneurs, male social entrepreneurs are more likely to internationalize social ventures. Prior study argues that the number of male entrepreneurs is double of the one of female entrepreneurs; and the female are more likely to act as social entrepreneurs rather than traditional commercial entrepreneurs. Yet this dissertation finds that male social entrepreneurs will perform better in terms of internationalizing the social impacts.Second, the more overseas experience the social entrepreneurs have, the more likely they internationalize their ventures. This finding is consistent with the arguments in international entrepreneurship research. That is, the overseas experience provides the opportunities and networks for the social entrepreneurial activities on an international scale, thus significantly influences the strategy of internationalization.Third, the weaker the collectivism traits of the social entrepreneurs, the more likely the social entrepreneurs choose internationalization strategy. With strong notion of collectivism interests, social entrepreneurs would firstly solve the social need existing in their own community, thus give up the internationalization strategy to make social value on a larger scale.Fourth, social ventures are less likely to go international when they lack international entrepreneurial orientation. Again, consistent with the arguments addressed by the scholars in international entrepreneurship study, this finding shows that international orientation is fundamental for a venture to scale up into international markets.Fifth, social ventures are more likely to go international when they find social needs exist in an unfavorable environment. This is one of the surprising findings of this dissertation, which challenges the argument in international entrepreneurship. When the international environment is unfavorable, the social ventures will be more highly motivated to solve the social problems internationally. That is, they consider the unfavorable environment as an opportunity to change the society into a better one instead of viewing it as the barrier of growing. To some extent, this finding is supported by the argument in social entrepreneurship research that social ventures emerge as a way to make social change.Generally speaking, the contributions of this dissertation can be addressed as below.To begin with, this dissertation has identified an interesting phenomenon overlooked by social entrepreneurship research and dig into the determinants of the internationalization based on the Child’s Strategic Choice Theory. Through using pro-social behavior theory and personality traits theory, this dissertation analyzes the motivating factors from the social entrepreneurs’perspective. The theories on entrepreneiral orientation and knowledge are applied to explain the barriers of internationalization. The discussion of motivating factors and barriers of internationalization theory, therefore, puts the social entrepreneurship research forward, and helps management while internationalzing a social venture.What’s more, the conclusions in this dissertation verify and challenge the arguments in international entrepreneurship research. The "social objective" of social ventures leads the arguments of international entrepreneurship research not applicable in the social contexts. The primary goal of social ventures is to create social values, and "making profit" is just viewed as a tool to achieve this goal. Thus, the purpose of internationalizing social ventures is not to expand their operations to make more economic profits; instead, the goal is to satisfy more social needs and generate more social changes. This "social objective" gives social ventures courage to go international even the environment is unfavorable. This important finding enriches the international entrepreneurship research by encouraging the scholars to pay more attention to the "social objective" of social ventures.Last but not least, this dissertation has applied both survey study and case study to test the theoretical model. By doing so, it contributes to the methodology in the very early stage of social entrepreneurship research, when there are a larger number of conceptual papers than empirical papers, especially the quantitative research papers. This study tries to fill this gap by collecting the latest first-hand data via collecting data from three representative, international organizations supporting courses of social entrepreneurship. Factor analysis helps develop the variables in the theoretical model. The Logistic regression model has been conducted to test the model. By comparing and combining the results generated from the survey study and the case study, stronger evidences have been provided to test the model in this dissertation.This dissertation includes seven chapters organized as follows:Chapter1raises the research questions based on the practical and theoretical background, and introduces the significance of this research, the objectives, research design, and methodology, etc.. Through the systematic framework, this chapter introduces and integrates relative contents. Chapter2reviews the literature that relates to international social entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship, international entrepreneurship, and social entrepreneurship at multiple levels as well as from different perspectives. Based on the gaps and founding theories identified in Chapter2and a systematic discussion on Child’s Strategic Choice Theory, hypotheses about the motivating factors and barriers of the strategic choice of internationalizing social ventures were developed in Chapter3. Chapter4describes the survey study in detail, including the design of the survey, the sample selection, the data collection, the pre-process of the data analysis, the factor analysis, and the variable constructions. Chapter5presents the empirical results of the logistic regressions which is to test the hypotheses on the motivating factors at the individual level and barriers beyond individual level. Chapter6mainly discusses the case study. It applies the long interview to analyze the data collected centering on the two research questions; meanwhile, it compares the findings with the survey study. Finally, Chapter7summarizes and discusses the empirical results in this research, talks about the implications for theory, practice and education of the overall findings, and puts forwards the limitations as well as the future directions of this study.

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