Title: The new competitive environment of social enterprises: an experimental study on perceptions and consumer intentions for social vs. traditional enterprises

Authors: Nick Lin-Hi; Regina Kempen; Maja Petrushevska; Kate Hattrup

Addresses: Chair of Business and Ethics, University of Vechta, Driverstraße 22, 49377 Vechta, Germany ' Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, Osnabrueck University, Seminarstrasse 20, 49074 Osnabrück, Germany ' Dr. Werner Jackstädt Chair of Economic and Business Ethics, HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, Jahnallee 59, 04109 Leipzig, Germany ' Department of Psychology, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego, CA, USA

Abstract: The present study compares external perceptions and consumer intentions for social vs. traditional enterprises in order to analyse social enterprises' competitive ability in the market for sustainable products. To this end, an experimental survey was conducted with 222 participants. The results of a multivariate analysis of variance show that social enterprises are perceived as more socially responsible and credible than their traditional counterparts and face higher expectations in terms of sustainable behaviour. However, irresponsible behaviour was not found to yield stronger negative stakeholder reactions to social enterprises than to traditional enterprises. In addition, consumers' willingness to buy and willingness to pay for sustainable products were not higher for the products offered by social enterprises than by traditional enterprises. In sum, the study indicates that it is a difficult undertaking for social enterprises to successfully compete with their traditional counterparts in the market for sustainable products in the long run.

Keywords: competitive advantage; consumer intentions; credibility; irresponsible behaviour; social entrepreneurship; perceived social responsibility; sustainability; willingness to buy; willingness to pay.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEV.2020.105134

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing, 2020 Vol.12 No.1, pp.58 - 84

Received: 05 Mar 2019
Accepted: 18 Apr 2019

Published online: 13 Feb 2020 *

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