Prone to Progress: Using Personality to Identify Supporters of Innovative Social Entrepreneurship
Thursday, Jun 28, 2012
New research by Dr. Stacy Wood, Langdon Professor of Marketing in the NC State University Poole College of Management, identifies two personality characteristics that significantly increase the likelihood that an individual will support innovative “social entrepreneurial” firms.
Her research appears in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, published by the American Marketing Association.
Social entrepreneurial firms – or “social enterprises” – typically use profit-based business models to solve social needs founded with a particular social cause in mind. Such firms include Kiva, a microfinance website, and Kinder Soles, an environmentally and socially conscious flip flop company founded by Poole College alumnus Mark Saad, now merged with the similarly social entrepreneurial flip flop company Feelgoodz.
In this research, Wood conducted a large survey that asked consumers about six different social entrepreneurial ventures. Three featured innovations that were more social in nature. Three were innovations that were more technological in nature such as EnSol, a firm that helps commercialize new thin-film solar cell energy applications.
The survey also included a battery of personality tests that measured a broad spectrum of personality traits of each respondent. The data show that, while many personality traits don’t influence a respondent’s intention to support the venture, there were two traits that had a significant impact on the likelihood of support. These traits differed by the type of venture. For example, people high in empathy were shown to be more supportive of social innovations and people high in openness were more supportive of technological innovations. The data suggests that both of these effects occur because these people were better able to envision the big changes that could occur through the innovation and that “bigger change is better” in this domain.
“Given the diversity of the social enterprises considered,” Wood said, “it is amazing that any one personality trait was so influential. I hope that these findings aid social entrepreneurs by helping them better use their limited marketing resources to identify and target those people who are most likely to support them.”
The article, Prone to Progress: Using Personality to Identify Supporters of Innovative Social Entrepreneurship, appears in the Spring 2012 issue of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.
Note: This article is based on a news release prepared by the American Marketing Association, the professional association for individuals and organizations who are leading the practice, teaching, and development of marketing worldwide, and was distributed via PR Newswire.