Antecedents of social entrepreneurial intentions among Generation Y university students in South Africa
Chipeta, Eleanor Meda
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World economies are currently faced with the challenge of finding effective and sustainable solutions to reduce social inequality and many other social problems. Social problems such as long-term poverty, unequal wealth distribution, poor medical care, crime and unemployment, hinder development of healthy economies, and South Africa is no exception. South Africa has been unable to address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Considering unemployment alone, the figures are constantly on the rise, irrespective of the measures adopted. High unemployment figures, especially among the youth, place an unnecessary burden on limited government resources. Amid these social and environmental developments, social entrepreneurship (SE) has emerged as one measure that could help in overcoming this challenge. SE is described as a business endeavour that combines a social purpose and entrepreneurial behaviour. The debate on SE has reached various institutions and research networks around the world. Although scientific research in the field is growing, as evident from the proliferation of publications on the topic, there has not been much scholarly output in the mainstream management and entrepreneurship journals. The main issue hindering the advancement of SE research is the lack of clarity on defining the phenomenon and the existing shortage of empirical studies. The existing literature has the tendency to employ more formal and hypothesis-testing research in the field, with some addressing recommendations made in previous studies, such as the application of established theories. However, more research is still needed to establish an appropriate methodology, especially for the measurement of social entrepreneurial intentions. In order to address these problems, this study first embarked on a comprehensive literature review to explore the meaning of the concepts involved. The existing SE definitions were critically analysed through a two-step procedure. The first step involved structuring complex and ambiguous information using qualitative content analysis procedure. In the second, the Sahlman People-context-Deal-Opportunity (PCDO) framework was followed to summarise content that was deduced from the previous step. The outcome revealed seven central features of a social enterprise and seven central features of a social entrepreneur. Two new and concise definitions for the terms “social enterprise” and “social entrepreneur” were derived. The study then continued to statistically analysing the resulting information from steps 1 and 2. A quantitative research approach was followed to collect data. A questionnaire was administered among 514 undergraduate and postgraduate university students from a selection of universities in South Africa. In an effort to improve on the credibility of the results, more data was collected from 190 university students from Dresden University, Germany. Exploratory, confirmatory factor analyses tests as well as structural equation modelling were employed to develop a scale to measure social entrepreneurial intentions among Generation Y University students in South Africa. The results revealed a distinct six item social entrepreneurial intention scale. Similar results were found when the German sample was used in the analysis. These results further confirmed the validity of the social entrepreneurial intentions. Furthermore, the validity of the scale was assessed against other factors acknowledged as social entrepreneurial intentions in the extant literature. Correlation analysis test was employed to determine convergent and divergent validity of the newly developed social entrepreneurial intentions scale against other existing scales. Positive correlations were found among all scales except for ethical risk-taking. The highest correlations were found for Attitude towards SE (r=.53, p< .01), SE perceived behavioural control (r=.46, p< .01), Perceived social entrepreneurial feasibility (r= .45, p< .01) and Perceived social entrepreneurial desirability (r = .52, p < .01). These results were in line with those of previous studies on social entrepreneurial intention and matched some of the theoretical considerations. Regression analysis was employed to investigate the strength of relationship among the SE antecedents. The results were significant indicating Social entrepreneurial intention, Attitude towards entrepreneurship, Social norms, Perceived behavioural control, Social entrepreneurial perceived feasibility, Social entrepreneurial perceived desirability, Ethical risk-taking, Investment risk-taking, Proactive personality and Altruism as antecedents to social entrepreneurial intentions among Generation Y university students in South Africa. The results of this study showed that university students in South Africa perceive social entrepreneurial intention as an antecedent to SE. The developed scale can contribute to increasing the validity of social entrepreneurial intention assessment and can serve as encouragement to conduct quantitative research on SE. Practitioners are also served with an empirically based measure of social entrepreneurial intentions that could be used to select for or monitor the success of social entrepreneurial education programmes.