The nature and origins of social venture mission: An exploratory study of political ideology and moral foundations

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Abstract

Although organizational mission is central to social venturing, little is known about the nature and origins of social ventures' missions. In particular, the field lacks a framework for understanding the moral content of nascent ventures' “prosocial” missions that rely on quite different—and potentially conflicting—moral values. We engage in an exploratory study, drawing on moral foundations theory and upper echelons theory to develop framing questions related to the moral discourse in social venture missions and the role of founders' political ideology in relation to this moral discourse. We construct a novel dataset using computer-aided text analysis on the mission statements of over 50,000 nascent nonprofit ventures in the United States, supplemented by voter registration data from 17 states and Washington, D.C. Our findings reveal rich nuance in the moral discourse found in organizations' mission statements. Furthermore, founding teams' political ideologies are strongly associated with the moral discourse in their social ventures' stated missions—and in ways that differ intriguingly from findings in moral psychology at the individual level. We draw on these new insights to develop a roadmap for future research on organizational mission in relation to social venturing, moral markets, mission drift, and political ideology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106271
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Volume38
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Keywords

  • Exploratory analysis
  • Moral discourse
  • Moral foundations theory
  • Nonprofits
  • Organizational mission
  • Organizational values
  • Political ideology
  • Social venture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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