Journal Article

Prone to "care"? : Relating motivations to economic and social performance among women social entrepreneurs in Europe


Purpose. Little attention has been given specifically to the experience of women social entrepreneurs despite the assumption they are prone to ‘care’, and even less to their motivations or their selfperception of success. This article provides an insight into the relationship between motivations and social and economic performance among women social entrepreneurs in 10 EU countries. Design/methodology/approach. This article classifies the motivations of women social entrepreneurs, drawing on the results of a survey conducted (n=380) by the European Women’s Lobby. The article then examines how these motivations relate to self-perceptions of social and economic performance. Findings. In addition to being driven by self-interest and prosocial motivations, women social entrepreneurs also seek to develop alternative business models. Where a social mission is central, women are likely to feel successful in meeting their social aim; however, there is a strong negative relationship between self-interested motivations and revenue. Research limitations/implications. This analysis relies on perceptual and self-reported data; therefore, more objective measures should be considered for further research, possibly combined with a longitudinal design. Another limitation of this paper lies in the non-random sampling strategy employed to identify a hard-toreach population such as women social entrepreneurs. Practical implications. The findings provide a better understanding of the motivations of women social entrepreneurs. This may be useful in assisting funding or support organizations, as well as social investors, evaluate where to best invest resources. In addition, a more nuanced understanding of motivations among women social entrepreneurs can inform policies aimed at supporting women social entrepreneurs, without necessarily being bound by the expectation to maximise economic and/or social outcomes. Originality/value. This article demonstrates the centrality of the social mission for women social entrepreneurs. The results also identify ‘seeking an alternative business model’ as a key motivation among women social entrepreneurs, thereby breaking existing conceptualisations of entrepreneurial motivations on a binary spectrum as either ‘self-interested’ or ‘prosocial’. The article also shows that having other than prosocial motivations for becoming a social entrepreneur does not necessarily lead to higher economic revenue.

Attached files


Humbert, Anne Laure
Roomi, Muhammad

Oxford Brookes departments

Oxford Brookes Business School\Oxford Brookes Business School


Year of publication: 2018
Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-05-09

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Prone to "care"? : Relating motivations to economic and social performance among women social entrepreneurs in Europe


  • Owner: Joseph Ripp
  • Collection: Outputs
  • Version: 1 (show all)
  • Status: Live
  • Views (since Sept 2022): 434