The stories of social entrepreneurship : narrative discourse and social enterprise resource acquisition
Roundy, Philip Thomas
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Social entrepreneurship is a phenomenon of increasing economic and cultural importance. A key challenge for social enterprises is resource acquisition. However, how social entrepreneurs acquire the resources needed to grow their ventures is not clear. Moreover, social enterprises differ from traditional ventures in several key ways which suggest that research developed from studying traditional entrepreneurs does not fully apply to social entrepreneurs. The focus of this dissertation is how social entrepreneurs use narratives to gather resources. This topic is examined using a multi-study, inductive, theory-building design based on 121 interviews, observation, and archival data. In Study 1, I interview 75 entrepreneurs, investors, and ancillary participants in the social enterprise sector. In Study 2, I construct case studies of eight technology-focused social ventures. The result is a framework explaining how differences in entrepreneurs' narrative tactics and characteristics are associated with differences in their resource acquisition success. Specifically, from Study 1 I develop a typology of social enterprise narratives, identify three narrative-types (personal, social-good, and business), and show that they possess unique elements. Findings from Study 2 demonstrate that the three narrative-types serve as the building blocks for communication with external stakeholders, particularly investors and the media. I find that successful social entrepreneurs used narratives to engage in two tactics -- tailoring and linking -- and constructed narratives with a unique characteristic: multiplexity. These findings contribute to three literatures that formed the basis of the study -- social entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial resource acquisition, and organizational narrative theory -- and have implications for work on competing institutional logics and emotion in stakeholder evaluations.