Understand | Research
Empirical quantitative research on social entrepreneurs and social enterprises
My research focuses on issues in the area of “Social Entrepreneurship” and overlaps with related fields such as “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) and “Environmental Management in Existing Companies”. These fields of research investigate why, how and with what consequences newly founded and existing companies incorporate social and ecological issues into their business processes.
The research methods that are used to answer my research questions are primarily empirical quantitative and include, for example, survey studies, vignette studies, meta-analyzes, cluster analyzes and longitudinal analyzes. In new projects, however, I am also interested in a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods.
Three main building blocks along the social entrepreneurial start-up process
My current and future research projects are based on three key questions that illuminate the social entrepreneurial start-up process and are based on the research field of CSR. These sub-questions are also the basis of my teaching concept, as they include the most important building blocks for starting a social entrepreneurial project.
- What?— What is a social enterprise? How are social enterprises perceived?
As part of my work in the traditional start-up ecosystem, I kept coming across the question of what social enterprises actually are and I was confronted with very different ideas about what a social entrepreneurial start-up entails. The questions about what constitutes social enterprises and how they are perceived also reflect the status and interest of the growing research field “social entrepreneurship”. That is why I dedicate myself, for example, to the question of how social enterprises are perceived from the outside. Understanding this perception is important in order to understand the challenges of new and existing social enterprises that are between the traditional economy and the social sector.
- Why — What does the bridging of social and entrepreneurial goals bring about?
The simultaneous pursuit of economic, social, and environmental goals poses a number of challenges. But, it also offers potential, especially in motivating employees and attracting applicants who can find meaning in their work through the social mission. One of my projects, for example, examines how the communication of CSR affects potential applicants. Although CSR is generally seen as an effective means of attracting applicants, it is still unclear what happens when companies send inconsistent signals,
- How — What are the success factors of (social) entrepreneurial teams?
Around 77% of social entrepreneurs in Germany start with a team (Social Entrepreneurship Monitor, 2019). We know from entrepreneurship research that start-up teams are central to the development of companies (Aldrich & Ruef 2006; Davidsson & Honig, 2003; Lazar et al.). However, so far there is very limited knowledge about how social entrepreneurial teams work and how they are best composed. In various studies, I therefore investigate which role, for example, the composition of the values of different team members develop with the quality of the business model.