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In pursuit of blended value in social entrepreneurial ventures: an empirical investigation

Sophie Bacq (D'Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Frank Janssen (Louvain School of Management, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)
Jill R. Kickul (Department of Business and Society, NYU Stern School of Business, New York, New York, USA)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 16 May 2016




The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of the factors that influence social entrepreneurial ventures’ (SEVs) pursuit of a blended value approach. This paper predicts and examines that the mindset of SEV senior decision-makers leads them to perceive organisational goals differently.


This paper tests the hypotheses on an original data set of 171 SEVs by means of discriminant analysis.


The results suggest that social entrepreneurs who display an agency-oriented mindset tend to perceive organisational goals as being single: either social or financial. Conversely, social entrepreneurs who have a stewardship-oriented mindset tend to perceive organisational goals as blending both. The findings also underline that senior decision-makers’ mindsets in terms of governance are far from being uniform in SEVs.

Research limitations/implications

The findings empirically contribute to the argument that agency principles do apply to broader contexts than profit-oriented organisations (Wiseman et al., 2012) and frame SEVs as a promising context that redefines principal-agent relationships. It follows that the expected association between non-economic goals and stewardship put forward in the literature needs to be nuanced: only a blended value approach of social and financial objectives is associated with stewardship, whereas single social goals are best perceived by agency-oriented senior decision-makers. The results are limited to a single survey, using cross-sectional data.

Practical implications

The findings have a bearing on goal setting in social entrepreneurship. The results suggest that practitioners who display a stewardship mindset are more likely to perceive a double bottom line than those displaying an agency mindset.


A novel feature of the model is the incorporation of senior decision-makers’ heterogeneous “governance mindsets” (agency and stewardship) and one of the first empirical tests of blended value in social entrepreneurship.



Bacq, S., Janssen, F. and Kickul, J.R. (2016), "In pursuit of blended value in social entrepreneurial ventures: an empirical investigation", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 316-332.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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