The Impact of Moral Intensity and Desire for Control on Scaling Decisions in Social Entrepreneurship

  • Smith B
  • Kistruck G
  • Cannatelli B
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Abstract

While research has focused on why certain entrepreneurs elect to create innovative solutions to social problems, very little is known about why some social entrepreneurs choose to scale their solutions while others do not. Research on scaling has generally focused on organizational characteristics often overlooking factors at the individual level that may affect scaling decisions. Drawing on the multidimensional construct of moral intensity, we propose a theoretical model of ethical decision making to explain why a social entrepreneur’s perception of moral intensity of the social problem, coupled with their personal desire for control, can significantly influence scaling decisions. Specifically, we propose that higher levels of perceived moral intensity will positively influence the likelihood of scaling through open as opposed to closed modes in order to achieve greater speed and scope of social impact. However, we also propose this effect will be negatively moderated by a social entrepreneur’s higher levels of desire for control. Our model has implications for research and practice at the interface of ethics and social entrepreneurship.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Ethical decision making
  • Moral intensity
  • Scaling
  • Social entrepreneurship

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