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A rhetoric-orientation view of social entrepreneurship

Yanto Chandra (Department of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 1 August 2016




This paper aims to extend the understanding of the ways in which social entrepreneurs give sense to and legitimize their work by introducing a rhetoric-orientation view of social entrepreneurship (SE).


This study uses computer-aided text analysis and computational linguistics to study 191 interviews of social and business entrepreneurs. It offers validation and exploration of new concepts pertaining to the rhetoric orientations of SE.


This study confirms prior untested assumptions that the rhetoric of social entrepreneurs is more other, stakeholder engagement and justification-oriented and less self-oriented than the rhetoric of business entrepreneurs. It also confirms that the rhetoric of both types of entrepreneurs is equally economically oriented.


This research makes new contribution to the SE literature by introducing three new orientations, namely, solution, impact and geographical, which reflect distinctive rhetorical themes used by social entrepreneurs, and by revealing that social entrepreneurs use terms associated with other, stakeholder engagement, justification, economic, solution, impact and geographical orientations differently than business entrepreneurs.



This research was funded by City University of Hong Kong DRSS 019 & 020 / 2013 grant schemes. I am indebted to Trish Ruebottom, Haibin Yang, Kwok Leung, Chan Su Jung, Nicole Coviello and Aaron McKenny, along with James Pennebaker (the creator of LIWC software) and his technical assistant Roger Booth; and Paul Rayson (the creator of WMatrix software) for their invaluable comments and suggestions.


Chandra, Y. (2016), "A rhetoric-orientation view of social entrepreneurship", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 161-200.



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