Abstract

Social entrepreneurship refers to a broad range of economic, political and social phenomena, from the founding of new organizations with social missions to new individual and organizational efforts aimed at creating social value. Principally, social entrepreneurs seek to “do good” by solving efficiency-related problems, such as the “inadequate provision, or unequal distribution, of social and environmental goods” (Nicholls, 2009), and addressing opportunities arising from market failures and institutional voids (Mair and Marti, 2009; Zahra et al., 2009; Dacin, Dacin and Tracey, 2011).

However, opportunities for “doing good” are not always straightforward. Social entrepreneurs may seek to address “wicked problems” that are ill-defined, have complex or conflicting goals and engender conflicting stakeholder interests (Rittel and Webber, 1973; Conklin, 2006; Dorado and Ventresca, 2013). Wicked problems, like poverty, climate change and end-of-life care, may place new demands on social entrepreneurs as they seek to do good.

We examine how the wickedness of the social problem influences the social entrepreneur’s choice of organizational form (profit or non-profit). We then test if problem wickedness, controlling for form, influences the choice of organizational

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