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Institutional channeling and opportunity recognition: heterogeneous knowledge corridors as pathways to social entrepreneurship

Jason Lortie (Daveler and Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida, USA)
Kevin C. Cox (Department of Management, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA)
Philip T. Roundy (Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA)
Lee Jarvis (Department of Management and Society, IESEG School of Management, Paris, France)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 28 March 2023

Issue publication date: 11 April 2023




Despite intense scholarly interest in social entrepreneurship, opportunity recognition remains a poorly understood facet of the phenomenon. Linkages between the micro- and macro-level forces shaping social entrepreneurship are particularly unclear. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the concept of institutional channeling, the process by which institutions socialize and direct individuals into specific knowledge corridors, as a key mechanism influencing the ability of entrepreneurs to identify and create different types of opportunities.


Through a synthesis of institutional theory and the knowledge corridor thesis, this research offers a theory explaining why some individuals are able to recognize opportunities for social entrepreneurship.


The authors develop a conceptual model that explains how non-contested institutions channel entrepreneurs into homogeneous knowledge corridors, which support the creation of purely for-profit and non-profit organizations. By contrast, experiences involving institutional plurality activate and enable heterogeneous knowledge corridors, which are associated with the ability to recognize opportunities, like social entrepreneurship, that blend institutions.


The central contribution of this paper is an explanation of why certain individuals, because of their institutional experiences, are more likely than others to recognize for-profit, non-profit and social opportunities. This article highlights that previous efforts at addressing this issue were predominantly centered at the micro level of analysis and focus on individual entrepreneurs and their identities, personality traits and social networks. Although these studies have shed light on important facets of opportunity recognition, they do not sufficiently explain the influence that institutions can have on the micro processes involved in social entrepreneurship opportunity recognition.



Lortie, J., Cox, K.C., Roundy, P.T. and Jarvis, L. (2023), "Institutional channeling and opportunity recognition: heterogeneous knowledge corridors as pathways to social entrepreneurship", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 213-235.



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