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Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship: the role of national leadership culture


Kesha K Coker, Richard L Flight, Kelly N Valle,
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Kesha K Coker, Richard L Flight, Kelly N Valle, "Social entrepreneurship: the role of national leadership culture", Journal of
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Social entrepreneurship: the role of national leadership culture

Purpose – Social entrepreneurship has emerged as an important realm of entrepreneurship


during the last decade. Research on what motivates social entrepreneurial activity continues to be
of interest in the field. Given the integral role of the social entrepreneur, one area identified as
deserving more attention is the leadership traits of the social entrepreneur. This paper addresses
this gap by presenting a conceptual model on the role of national leadership culture on social
entrepreneurship.

Design/methodology/approach – As part of the social fabric of a country, national leadership


culture is viewed as a social contextual factor that can either enhance or hinder social
entrepreneurial activity. As its broader conceptual base, this paper relies on institutional theory,
marketing systems, and leadership theory. At the heart of the proposed conceptual model are six
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leadership dimensions from the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness
(GLOBE) theoretical model: charismatic/value-based, team-oriented, participative, self-
protective, humane-oriented, and autonomous. These leadership dimensions are central to the
propositions that accompany the proposed conceptual model.

Findings – Implications of this research on entrepreneurial marketing and public policy are
presented. Since this research is conjectural, future directions for empirical research on national
leadership culture in social entrepreneurship are discussed.

Originality/value – The conceptual model is the first to examine the role of national leadership
culture on social entrepreneurship. The research adds value to the growing body of research on
social entrepreneurship in its social context. This research answers the call in the literature to
examine leadership as it pertains to the individual entrepreneur’s pre-disposition to engage in
social entrepreneurial activity.

Keywords Social entrepreneurship, national leadership culture, social context, GLOBE

Entrepreneurship is viewed as an important mechanism for economic development by generating

employment, innovation, and welfare effects (Schumpeter, 1943). Seventy years after

Schumpeter (1943), issues in social welfare paired with the unique abilities of entrepreneurs have

caught the attention of researchers on social entrepreneurship, with a resurgence of interest on

the topic over the past 10 years (Kraus et al., 2014). Social entrepreneurship exists in many

forms and for some, it is a preferable alternative to government programs or aid (Smith and

1
Nemetz, 2009). Though ‘undertheorized’ (Estrin et al., 2013, pp. 479), social entrepreneurship

has been proclaimed as the solution to social problems by management guru, Michael Porter.

Where typical commercial economic models have been overly focused on profits, Porter

suggested that social entrepreneurship is a way of doing business that creates shared value by

combining profit goals for “economic value” with social needs associated with “social goals”

(Driver, 2012, pp. 423).

As a framework, marketing activities can support social entrepreneurial ventures with “social
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objectives” through social marketing (Farley and Leavitt, 1971; Kotler and Zaltman, 1971;

Malafarina and Loken, 1993; McDermott et al., 2005). Social marketing is defined as:

…the design, implementation, and control of programs calculated to influence the acceptability of

social ideas involving consideration of product planning, pricing, communication, distribution, and

marketing research (Kotler and Zaltman, 1971, pp. 5).

In the world of social marketing, marketing techniques and principles can be applied alongside

social initiatives to increase their impact, or serve as “one of the many approaches to social

problems” in concert with the change agent who may carry out social marketing activities: the

social entrepreneur (Andreasen, 2001, pp. 5; Bloom, 2012). Social entrepreneurship ultimately

depends on the social entrepreneur as “an actor who applies business principles to solving social

problems” (Dacin et al., 2010, pp. 44).

Given the instrumental role of the social entrepreneur, one question remains open in the

literature:

“Why do some people but not others recognize and exploit opportunities that can create social value

for the societies?” in terms of social value creation (SVC) (Özdemir, 2013, pp. 39).

Prior research has suggested that entrepreneurs are affected by regulatory, normative, and

cognitive institutional environment norms (Scott, 1995). Specifically, these norms relate to the

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institutions or formal systems of rules and regulations, informal social models of behavior, and

culturally constructed rules that shape human behavior (Sambharya and Musteen, 2014). The

broader structure provided by social institutions or marketing systems are critical determinants of

economic behavior (North, 1990) and economic transactions (Williamson, 1998). Social

institutions, and the culture that creates them, provide a context or backdrop for economic

activity that imposes direct and indirect effects on both the supply and demand as entrepreneurs

who participate in an economy (Acs et al., 2008; Valle et al., 2015). Recent work (e.g. Bacq and
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Janssen, 2011; Özdemir, 2013; Rivera-Santos et al., 2015; Santos, 2012) pursue environmental

influences that contribute to the development of social entrepreneurism. Thus, marketing systems

and the subsequent economic exchanges that entrepreneurs engage in may be influenced by

many institutional characteristics. One such institutional characteristic is national leadership

culture.

Among other skills (i.e., market skills, political skills, philanthropic skills, and general

management skills), social entrepreneurs are expected to have leadership skills (Mirabella and

Young, 2012). As per Andreasen (2002, pp. 5), some “strategists” of social change believe that

leadership is one of the “powerful determinants of how social problems are addressed” and the

community’s involvement in social change is of vital importance. Though leadership has been

recognized as an important consideration (Ridley-Duff and Seanor, 2011), research on

organizational leadership remains scant in the social entrepreneurship literature (Short et al.,

2009). The purpose of the current research is to address this gap in the literature by examining

national leadership culture as a social contextual factor surrounding social entrepreneurship. In

doing so, this research contributes to the social entrepreneurship literature, of which “much

remains to be learned” (Roundy, 2014, pp. 201). This research answers the call in the literature,

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e.g., by Kraus et al. (2014) and Short et al. (2009), to closely examine leadership in social

entrepreneurial research.

To achieve its purpose, this paper proposes a conceptual model and subsequently proposes

research that measures the role national leadership culture plays as a contextual factor

surrounding social entrepreneurship. The intersection between social entrepreneurship,

institutional theory, marketing systems, and leadership theory is considered. It is proposed that

national leadership culture determines levels of social entrepreneurship. Some types of national
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leadership cultures are expected to promote social entrepreneurial activity, while others are

expected to inhibit such activity. The research concludes by summarizing relevant theory,

discussing its ramifications on social marketing, and suggesting a future stream of leadership-

based social entrepreneurship research.

Social entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is a phenomenon that bridges an important gap between business and

benevolence; it is the application of entrepreneurship in the social sphere (Roberts and Wood,

2005). Though there has been some debate over a consistent definition of the term “social

entrepreneurship,” Dacin et al. (2010) recommended that researchers adopt a definition that

covers the essence of social entrepreneurship and then move on to the study of deeper social

entrepreneurship issues. This is the approach taken in this paper. In this regard, two definitions

from the literature capture the essence of social entrepreneurship. The first, by Roberts and

Wood (2005, pp. 59), views social entrepreneurship as “the construction, evaluation and pursuit

of opportunities for transformative social change carries out by visionary, passionately dedicated

individuals.” The second, by Mair and Martí (2006, pp. 37), is a board definition of social

4
entrepreneurship as “a process involving the innovative use and combination of resources to

pursue opportunities to catalyze social change and/or address social needs.” The common

denominator of these definitions is the focus on the strategic use of resources toward

entrepreneurial activities centered on social goals. The definitions also point to the fundamental

role of the social entrepreneur.

Dating back to Schumpeter (1943), the entrepreneur has been described as a “change agent”

who innovates in ways that enhance economic activity levels (Dixon, 2000, pp. 83). Michael
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Porter viewed the social entrepreneur as a pioneer of ideas of change and referred to this person

as a “very important catalyst because in many cases they come first to some of the great ideas”

(Driver, 2012, pp. 425). The essence of social entrepreneurship also rests on the entrepreneur as

“an actor who applies business principles to solving social problems” (Dacin et al., 2010, pp.

44). “Social entrepreneurs are seen as people committed to radically changing their society, and

who benefit their communities” (Ridley-Duff and Seanor, 2011, pp. 194).

Conventional entrepreneurs are people that “discover, evaluate, and exploit profitable

opportunities, taking into account risk, alertness to opportunity and the need for innovation”

(Roberts and Wood, 2005, pp. 46). Social entrepreneurs are people with similar behaviors but

who “operate in the community and are more concerned with caring and helping than with

making money” (Thompson, 2002, pp. 413). They primarily pursue pro-social goals that benefit

society-at-large underscoring pro-social interests (Bierhoff, 2002; Santos, 2012; Zahra et al.,

2009). Like their commercial entrepreneur counterparts operating in market-based economies,

social entrepreneurs produce goods and services of value, which comes at a cost. They seek to

grow and expand, have competitors, and issues relating to distribution and communication.

However, they seek to create social value through innovativeness, risk management, and

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proactive behavior bounded by a social mission, sustainability, and the contextual environment

(Weerawardena and Mort, 2006).

Unlike their conventional counterparts, social entrepreneurs serve different stakeholders and

their measures for success are drastically different. Outcomes for social entrepreneurs include

social value, simultaneous satisfaction of multiple stakeholders, provision of sustainable

services, and the growth of such services (Moss et al., 2008). Social entrepreneurs are likely to

have a wider array of stakeholders, which may include the recipients of their services as well as
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those paying for the service provided (Lumpkin et al., 2013). Moreover, Low (2006) and Spear

et al. (2009) proffered multiple stakeholders become linked together by the social entrepreneur’s

mission which is directed toward satisfying some social goal, or purpose. Social entrepreneurs

often communicate with stakeholders using three narratives: personal or “lived experiences”,

social-good or “beneficiaries,” and business or the “social enterprise’s customers” (Roundy

2014, pp. 204). In sum, social entrepreneurs have all the hallmarks of an entrepreneur, yet

deviate from the norm given their motives.

Some of the most notable examples of social entrepreneurs include Muhammad Yunus, who

founded the Grameen Bank in 1983 to provide micro-loans supporting financial self-sufficiency

in Bangladesh (www.grameenfoundation.org). Stacey Edgar, founded Global Girlfriend in 2003

to support the socioeconomic development of women around the world through fair trade of

handmade goods (http://staceyedgar.com/about-global-girlfriend). Scott Harrison founded

Charity: water in 2006 to provide clean water in Liberia and since its foundation, Charity: water

has provided clean water to over 17 countries around the world (charitywater.org). To promote

literacy across the world, Better World Books or B Corporation was founded in 2002 by Xavier

Helgesen, Chris “Kreece” Fuchs, and Jeff Kurtzman (www.betterworldbooks.com). Finally, The

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Shoe That Grows initiative, started by Kenton Lee in 2009, offers children in African countries a

shoe that can be adjusted to fit children’s feet for up to five sizes larger than the original size

(https://theshoethatgrows.org).

Given the remarkable successes of these social entrepreneurs, the question remains: What

factors facilitate social entrepreneurial activities? To explore this question, a macro view of

social entrepreneurship is introduced and the social context surrounding social entrepreneurship

is considered. The role that social context plays in entrepreneurship provides guidance to the
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social goal obtained through entrepreneurship (Nicholls and Cho, 2006). The approach to view

social entrepreneurship in this manner is consistent with the view that “entrepreneurial

antecedents and outcomes differ within a social context” (Lumpkin et al., 2013, pp. 761) as does

the influence of formal and informal cultural institutions that set the conditions upon which

social entrepreneurs operate (Stephan et al., 2015).

Social entrepreneurship in social context

Social entrepreneurship is better understood not only by the level of economic development, but

also by “the combined influence of regional variations in geographic, social and institutional

backgrounds” (Terjesen et al., 2012, pp. 4). Short et al. (2009, pp. 173) presented three domains

of social entrepreneurship highlighted by “…cultural, economic, or market factors that serve as

catalysts for entrepreneurial activities.” Institutional environment factors (social, economic, and

political) are viewed as impacting opportunity exploration and opportunity exploitation in social

value creation in social entrepreneurship (Özdemir 2013). For purposes of this paper, two

perspectives form the theoretical foundation for the conceptual model proposed: institutional

theory and the market systems approach.

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Institutional theory

Institutional theory posits that institutions are critical determinants of economic behavior (North,

1990). Economic transactions (Williamson, 1998), in general, can impose direct and indirect

effects on both the supply and demand marketing systems of entrepreneurs. The dynamics of

entrepreneurship can be vastly different depending on the institutional context and level of

economic development illustrated by the stark difference across countries in the orientation of

entrepreneurial activities (Autio, 2007). Thus, it is expected that the context in which social
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entrepreneurs operate would impact their ability to not only exist but also to grow their social

ventures.

Institutions refer to deep aspects of social structure or social norms, which act as

authoritative guidelines and constraints for behavior (North, 1991, 2005; Scott, 1995). They

represent a collection of rules that can be explicit and consciously perceived by individuals or

can act as implicit guidelines for individuals’ actions (DiMaggio and Powell, 1991). Formal

institutions refer to the constraints and incentives arising from government regulation of

individual and organizational actions (Bruton et al., 2010; Scott, 1995). Informal institutions

refer to more implicit, slowly changing, culturally transmitted and socially constructed

institutions (Stephan et al., 2015). Institutional configuration further describes the role social

institutions play whereby human behavior is shaped jointly by the constraints, incentives and

resources provided by formal and informal institutions (Bruton et al., 2010; Scott 1995; Whitley

1994). Thus, a collection of cultural norms, when acting together, form a unique cultural

footprint.

Stephan and Uhlaner (2010) and Stephan et al. (2015) built upon Institutional Theory to

include national-level antecedents, suggesting that socially supported cultural norms encourage

8
cooperation based on repeated experiences of friendliness, supportiveness, cooperation, and

helpfulness. In short, their research indicates that informal institutions provide a model of

cooperation and caring behavior which should influence individuals within society to embark on

social entrepreneurial ventures. Therefore, such institutions affect the motivation and supply of

potential social entrepreneurs. Moreover, in light of formal institutions when countries whose

governments are active and knowledgeable of social concerns, social entrepreneurial activity

grows. Thus, institutions have been theorized to exert significant influence on the existence of
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social entrepreneurship.

Marketing systems

Providing a second perspective regarding the role context plays on social entrepreneurship is that

of the marketing system. Fisk (1967) provided a seminal understanding of a systems approach

consists of a flow of transfers including that of ownership, possession, finance, risk, and

information. Layton (2007) further provided a formal description of this concept:

A marketing system is a network of individuals, groups, and/or entities linked directly or indirectly

through sequential or shared participation in economic exchange that creates, assembles, transforms,

and a makes available assortments of products, both tangible and intangible, provided in response to

customer demand (pp. 230).

If an exchange is at the core of marketing theory, then a system of exchanges extends to the idea

of a marketing system. Within a system of exchanges lies the notion that a group of value

propositions form an assortment, which is then managed by the marketing system. Thus, the

benefit of marketing to society is the creation of a marketing system which in turn produces

socially desirable assortments of value that can be exchanged among parties.

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Where the success of an exchange is defined in terms of benefit or profit, the effectiveness of a

marketing system can be identified in the contribution of the assortments generated by the system to

the quality of life of the relevant community (Layton, 2007, pp. 227).

Significant development of this theory has evolved to a system-dominant view of how marketing

acts as a tool to facilitate exchange opportunities to achieve social goals. This view generally

leads to a broad consensus that marketing systems “are complex, adaptive, social networks in

which both structure and function are important and in which purpose derives from a dynamic
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matching of goods and needs” (Layton, 2007, pp. 228).

Is social entrepreneurship a consequence of a marketing system or does it alter and help form

the system? If one follows the development school of macromarketing, then markets and

marketing are fundamental tools for social development and human welfare. Such tools are

viewed as part of the solution to problems of the human condition, by which exchanges are

created that provide assortments, which satisfy the needs and wants of individuals. This school of

thought sees markets and marketing systems as antecedents for economic development and

societal well-being. Markets and marketing provide the framework or provisioning for systems

to satisfy social needs, including shelter, clothing, food, social wants, and desired beyond life-

supporting needs, allowing individuals to reach higher aspirational social goals (Cordell, 1993;

Dahringer, 1983; Dahringer and Hilger, 1985; Dominguez and Vanmarcke, 1987; Etgar, 1983).

Thus, the system generates opportunities and should then facilitate the social entrepreneur to

fulfill unmet social needs.

The role of national leadership culture

There is growing interest in leader-centric approaches in social entrepreneurship research where

“leadership is a product of personal qualities and character traits” (Ridley-Duff and Seanor,

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2011, pp. 196). To this end, there has been a bevy of research on the role of personality traits of

the social entrepreneur (see Kraus et al., 2014 for a review). The public nature of social

entrepreneur highlights the need for their leadership style to be such that they can introduce,

translate, and implement innovative changes (Roberts and King 1991; Waddock and Post 1991).

As the literature on social entrepreneurship suggests, social entrepreneurs are change-makers

and their leadership style reflects the societal culture they operate in and projects an

entrepreneurial leadership style that yields social entrepreneurial outcomes. This is in line with
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the description of cultural perspectives based on institutional theories of leadership in which

“leadership is a product of culturally defined activities, norms and rituals that reproduce the

legitimacy of leaders and the leadership function” (Ridley-Duff and Seanor 2011, pp. 197).

Though many theories of leadership have been used in marketing and entrepreneurship, the

Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) theoretical model

presents a holistic view of cross-cultural leadership theory and the importance of leadership and

organizational practices across the world (House et al., 2004). Thus, this paper builds on the

GLOBE model in proposing the effects of national leadership culture on social entrepreneurship.

The GLOBE model suggests that globalization has become a challenge for industrial

organizations and to overcome the difficulties of said challenge, it is important to identify and

select leaders’ culturally accepted attributes for the culture where they function. A cross-cultural

theory is relevant because “what functions effectively in one culture, may not in another” (House

et al., 2004, pp. 10). Therefore, the GLOBE model represents an “integrated theory” that

encompasses theories such as Lord and Maher (1991)’s implicit leadership theory, Hofstede

(1980) and Triandis’ (1993) theory of value-belief culture, McClelland’s (1985) theory of

11
implicit motivation, and finally Donaldson (1993) and Hickson et al.’s (1974) “structural

contingency theory of organizational form and effectiveness” (House et al., 2004, pp. 16).

Conceptual model

Leadership culture may partially be explained by leadership style based on implicit leadership

theory (ILT). ILTs impact how individuals perceive the importance, values and attributes of

leadership, and how effective the leader is in fulfilling these views (House et al., 2014). Based on
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several ILTs, the GLOBE identifies six global leadership dimensions: charismatic/value-based

leadership, team-oriented leadership, participative leadership, self-protective leadership,

humane-oriented leadership, and autonomous leadership (House et al., 2014, pp. 19). These

dimensions are deemed appropriate in describing leadership characteristics that may affect the

individual’s involvement in social entrepreneurship. Based on theories of social

entrepreneurship, leadership, and the GLOBE theoretical model, several propositions are

developed on the role national leadership culture on social entrepreneurial activities (see Figure

1).

---------------------------------------------
(Insert Figure 1 about here)
---------------------------------------------

Charismatic/value-based leadership

Social entrepreneurship requires “someone with leadership skills who can operationalize the

vision” (Thompson et al., 2000, pp. 329); an “ambitious and driven” leader who could inspire

those working with him/her (Thompson et al., 2000, pp. 331). Charismatic leaders exhibit traits

that allow them to challenge social equilibrium by being creative and innovative, having a vision,

and being able to inspire others (Thompson et al., 2000). “Charisma and motivational talent” are

12
some of the characteristics that Andreasen (2002, pp. 5) argues are attributes of leaders in the

non-profit world. Thompson et al. (2000) and Andreasen’s (2002) characteristics of a leader

correspond to that of the charismatic/value-based leadership (House et al., 2004).

Charismatic/value-based type of leadership is viewed as “the ability to inspire, motivate, and

expect high performance outcomes from others based on firmly held core values” and includes

six primary leadership dimensions: visionary, inspirational, self-sacrificial, integrity, decisive,

and performance oriented (House et al., 2014, pp. 19). It can be posited social entrepreneurship
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is expected to flourish within a leadership culture that emphasizes charismatic/value-based

leadership. Thus:

Proposition1: Individuals that are part of a charismatic/value-based national leadership

culture will generate more social entrepreneurial activity than those that do not.

Team-oriented leadership

Team-oriented leadership “emphasizes effective team building and implementation of a common

purpose or goal among other team members” (House et al., 2014, pp. 19). This leadership style

has five primary leadership attributes: collaborative team orientation, team integrator,

diplomatic, malevolent (reverse scored), and administratively competent (House et al., 2014).

There seems to be a connection between team-oriented leadership and social entrepreneurship.

Social entrepreneurs are constantly overcoming resource and social limitations (Montgomery

et al., 2012). Their ability to create a network of supporters and collaborators seems be a priority.

In line with this assumption, social entrepreneurship is considered the product of collective effort

and collaboration; social entrepreneurs need the support and alliances of those around them to

achieve their objectives and generate the desired social change (Montgomery et al., 2012). As

13
per Voegtlin et al. (2012, pp. 10), “responsible leaders engage in communications with external

stakeholders like government officials or NGOs” because the social change that a social

entrepreneur can achieve depends on the impact they can make on others. The personality traits

shown by social entrepreneurs who focus on creating a network of support through a collaborator

and integrator role seem consistent with the leadership attributes that characterize team-oriented

leadership. Thus, it is proposed that:

Proposition2: Individuals that are part of a team-oriented national leadership culture will
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generate more social entrepreneurial activity than those that do not.

Participative leadership

Participative leaders are willing to relinquish a degree of control to others that share their social

motives as a part of “group, community, or society members” such that their efforts may be

“self-perpetuating” (Praszkier and Nowak, 2012, pp. 143). These entrepreneurs “involve people

in decision making and draw on ideas of all members to develop creative solutions” (Praszkier

and Nowak 2012, pp. 143). Paszkier and Nowak (2012) further described the participative as a

leader who enables others, promotes “trust, cooperation, and self-reliance” (pp. 143) and who

communicates and inspires (pp. 144). As per Voegtlin et al. (2012), “responsible leadership

behavior helps to expand the knowledge base by fostering an active stakeholder dialog where all

participants can contribute their knowledge and expertise to solve problems” (pp.10). In other

words, a social entrepreneur who is open to other’s opinions and feedback is considered to be a

“responsible leader” (Voegtlin et al., 2012). The leadership characteristics espoused by Praszkier

and Nowak (2012) and Voegtlin et al. (2012) coincide with some of the leadership attributes

used to describe participative leadership. Thus, it can be proposed that:

14
Proposition3a: Individuals that are part of a participative national leadership culture will

generate more social entrepreneurial activity than those that do not.

Self-protective leadership

Characteristics of self-protective leadership seem to suggest that this type of leadership as the

reverse of participative leadership. Self-protective leadership “focuses on ensuring the safety and

security of the individual and group through status enhancement and face-saving” (House et al.,
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2014, pp. 19), while participative leaders as those who deeply desire success and utilize

strategies such as hiding information, following rules to avoid risk, and careful interaction with

others to maintain their position of power (House et al., 2014). It can be argued that leadership

cultures that emphasize self-protective leadership would inhibit social entrepreneurial activity.

Thus:

Proposition3b: Individuals that are part of a self-protective national leadership culture will

generate less social entrepreneurial activity than those that do not.

Humane-oriented leadership

This type of leadership “reflects supportive and considerate leadership but also includes

compassion and generosity” (House et al., 2014, pp. 19). Also, humane-oriented leadership is

characterized by two primary leadership dimensions: modesty and humane orientation (House et

al., 2014).

In examining “servant leadership” and “humane-oriented leadership” linked to social

entrepreneurs’ personal traits, both types of leadership styles seem to share similar characteristics

and, thus, the terms “servant” and “humane-oriented” can be used interchangeably. Servant

15
leaders in social entrepreneurship “serve first rather than lead first” (Haskell et al., 2009, pp.

533). A servant leader helps his/her colleagues and is a role model of service toward others by

assisting others in his/her own time (Sosik et al., 2009). Furthermore, servant leaders are

individuals who are “called to choose service over self-interest through their altruistic behavior”

(Sosik et al., 2009, pp. 405).

Social entrepreneurs who exhibit the characteristics of servant leadership seem to adopt

humane-oriented leadership. In this sense, for individuals in societies where humane-oriented


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leadership or servant leadership are part of the national leadership culture, social

entrepreneurship is expected to flourish. Thus, it is proposed that:

Proposition4: Individuals that are part of a humane-oriented national leadership culture will

generate more social entrepreneurial activity than those that do not.

Autonomous leadership

Autonomous leadership is defined as “a newly defined global leadership dimension referring to

independent and individualistic leadership attributes” (House et al., 2014, pp. 19). Autonomous

leaders are characterized by its primary dimension, i.e., autonomous, and its leadership attributes,

are “individualistic, independent, autonomous, and unique” (House et al., 2014, pp. 21).

Autonomous leadership seems to similar to the concept of transactional leadership in social

entrepreneurship research. Transactional leadership “is focused on maintaining the status quo of

relationships between the boss and the subordinates; the latter are better off if they obey the

leader and the leader controls the relationship through agreements and transactions” (Praszkier

and Nowak, 2012, pp. 144). However, such leadership may be a “departure point for social

capital and the subsequent change process” (Praszkier and Nowak, 2012, pp. 144) and

16
transactional leadership in social entrepreneurship may not be a desirable type of leadership. In

fact, Waddock and Post (1991, pp. 397) argued that social entrepreneurs bring “catalytic

changes” and these changes happen under transformative leadership rather than under

transactional leadership, suggesting that leaders that exhibit autonomous leadership may not

supportive of social entrepreneurial activity. Taking the similarities of autonomous leadership

and transactional leadership in terms of their respective descriptions, it can be posited that social

entrepreneurship is not expected to flourish within a leadership culture that emphasizes


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autonomous leadership. Thus:

Proposition5: Individuals that are part of an autonomous national leadership culture will

generate less social entrepreneurial activity than those that do not.

Discussion, conclusion, and future research

A market is a forum for carrying out exchanges. It may simply emerge over time or be the

outcome of a purposefully designed effort. Ultimately, the design of the marketing system

provides structure, which (ideally) creates an efficient flow of goods and services between

buyers and sellers along with the traditions, culture and norms of the institution (McMillan,

2002). Given the social environment, a marketing system should adapt to create an efficient

assortment of goods and services to provide for the general welfare of society. Generally, the

consensus in macromarketing is that marketing systems “are complex, adaptive, social networks

in which both structure and function are important and in which purpose derives from a dynamic

matching of goods and needs” (Layton, 2007, pp. 228).

The role that context plays in generating an environment conducive to entrepreneurism is the

central question posed by this research. More specifically, the current research calls into question

17
the role cultural leadership norms play through an institutional perspective and a macromarketing

‘systems’ perspective on social entrepreneurism. Prior literature is replete with references to the

significance that environmental context plays in framing the landscape for entrepreneurs to

emerge. Less is known about how social entrepreneurship comes to be and the degree to which

the institution or system contributes. The dominant social paradigm that exists in each culture

serves to provide a social lens through which groups and individuals interpret their world

(Milbrath, 1984). In doing so it legitimizes actions, policies, and institutions of the culture. The
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lens that is created also embeds behavior and social norms that become the characteristics which

make up the culture.

If the propositions presented in this paper are supported with empirical research, a challenge

is posed from an institutional perspective, asking how the institution can develop

charismatic/value-based, team-oriented, participative, and humane-oriented leadership styles

while discouraging self-protective and autonomous ones. Following institutional theory, formal

rules would suggest that the explicit development of leaders (carrying desirable leadership traits)

can promote social entrepreneurism with a reward mechanism built into their pursuit of social

goals. This may be in the form of public policy programs, e.g., government-initiated incentives,

educational programs, or other national department programs aimed at publicly acknowledging

the positive benefits social entrepreneurs provide to society (Rivera-Santos et al., 2012).

Meanwhile, if consideration is given to the character of the entrepreneur to be one that eschews

formality, then informal rules may offer an even greater incentive to bring out positive leadership

or pro-social entrepreneur leadership styles.

A marketing system perspective provides the challenge of its own current debate among

academics. The development school of macromarketing sees markets and marketing as

18
fundamental tools for social development and human welfare. It is viewed as part of the solution

to problems of the human condition by which exchanges are created that provide assortments,

which satisfy the needs and wants of individuals. Given the system is a collection of value-

propositions, the system self-determines what is needed and what is not. From this perspective

and with the aid of consumers the market [and Adam Smith’s (1776) invisible hand], the system

produces self-satisfying outputs which are consumed. If a need exists, the system produces a

solution and it is used until a better solution is found. This school sees markets and marketing
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systems as antecedents for economic development and societal well-being (Mittelstaedt et al.,

2006). Included in an assortment are offerings from social entrepreneurs. As such the social

entrepreneur contributes to the array of market solutions an assortment provides.

As a counter-argument, the critical school suggests that markets and the practice of

marketing is a contributor to social constraints, shortages, and ills. It suggests that marketing

outcomes produce dubious consequences which must be adjusted for or controlled (Mittelstaedt

et al., 2006). In light of marketing system critics, it is contended that social entrepreneurism is

the potential cure for the problems that the system may create. In the broadest of senses, the

human condition, that is a result of its social environment, creates social need and thereby social

opportunities that entrepreneurs can satisfy (Rivera-Santos et al., 2015).

The impact of this research is yet to be fully realized with empirical research. However, the

ground work is now being laid with the proposed conceptual model in this paper. Individuals

around the world engage in social entrepreneurship with the objective to solve or alleviate social

issues in their communities. As such, personality traits of these individual change agents and the

communities they work should continue to be an interesting topic of study. This paper is an

initial attempt to connect social entrepreneurship with national leadership cultures that may

19
influence the level of social entrepreneurial activity. In future research, the proposed model

should be tested as well as other contributors to the generation of social entrepreneur activities.

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About the Authors

Kesha K. Coker (PhD, Southern Illinois University Carbondale) is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Eastern
Illinois University. Her research focuses on social context effects related to branding, promotions, social media
marketing, and entrepreneurship. She has conducted and presented research at conferences on social
entrepreneurship with her MBA thesis advisee, Ms. Kelly Valle. She has published research in Journal of Research in
Interactive Marketing, Journal of Product and Brand Management, Marketing Management Journal, Journal of
Consumer Behaviour, and Marketing Education Review. Kesha Coker is the correspondent author and can be
contacted at: kcoker@eiu.edu

Richard L. Flight (Ph.D., University of Alabama) is an Associate Professor and the School of Business Assistant Chair
for Marketing at Eastern Illinois University. His active research areas include innovation and diffusion, branding, and
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compulsive buying behaviors. He has presented his research at numerous international conferences and is published
in Journal of Business Research, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, Journal of Product and Brand
Management, Journal of Marketing Channels, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, among
others. He has also developed entrepreneurship training programs for emerging and developing markets. He has
worked with small business entrepreneurs and NGOs from Chile, Iraq, Tajikistan, Iran, and Azerbaijan, to name a
few.

Kelly N. Valle (MBA, Eastern Illinois University) works at the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) in Illinois.
She completed her MBA thesis on social entrepreneurship with Dr. Kesha Coker at Eastern Illinois University. At
SURS, her current responsibilities focus on the investments field. Social entrepreneurship remains a topic of interest
for her as she explores ways to connect it to her professional career and to other related areas such as impact
investing and responsible investing.

29
Figure 1. Conceptual model on the role of leadership culture and social entrepreneurship activity

Charismatic/
Value-Based
leadership

P1 (+)
Team-
Oriented
leadership
P2(+)
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Participative
leadership P3a(+)
SOCIAL
ENTREPRENEURSHIP
P3b(-) ACTIVITY

Self-Protective
leadership
P4(+)

Humane-
Oriented P5(-)
leadership

Autonomous
leadership

30