Copyright: Hossain, Sayem
Copyright: Hossain, Sayem
The field of social entrepreneurship has grown exponentially in the last few decades. Since the 2000s, there has been an increasing focus from researchers to try to understand how social entrepreneurs create successful enterprises. Despite this, considerable conceptual ambiguity still exists. The key question that still occupies the research field is the idea of ‘social entrepreneurial opportunity’, or simply – how social entrepreneurs identify and exploit opportunities. The extant research suggests that social entrepreneurial opportunity is predominantly influenced by the contextual factors of a society. A current flaw in the literature is the lack of research on contextual factors in developing/emerging economies. Consequently, Bangladesh, an emerging economy of South-East Asia, which has made substantial progress within the social entrepreneurial space, was chosen as the case study nation. Building upon prior theories of opportunity identification, this study seeks to identify how opportunities are identified in social entrepreneurship in the context of an emerging economy. Utilising a constructivist paradigm, a qualitative methodology was deemed appropriate, with semi-structured, in-depth interviews of 30 social entrepreneurs, sourced via a purposive sampling technique. The primary data was supplemented with extensive secondary source material on Bangladesh to contextualise the environment. Findings from the primary and secondary data was analysed based on a thematic analysis technique consisting of six steps. A hermeneutic approach was used to interpret the data and derive the core themes. The findings suggest that social entrepreneur’s age, education, gender, previous work experience and leadership capacity are endogenous factors which influence their ability to identify opportunities. The exogenous factors, on the other hand, include: extent of market failure, nature of social equilibrium, availability of financial support, macro-environmental elements and government support. The study contributes to the social entrepreneurship literature by offering a unique conceptual model that shows the contextual factors and their influence on social entrepreneurial opportunity. Knowledge derived from this study extends the understanding on the idiosyncrasies of emerging economies which gives impetus to social venture creation. The thesis concludes with several practical implications and provides future research directions to overcome the shortcomings in the extant literature.