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Exploring contemporary entrepreneurial philanthropy

Shaw, Eleanor and Gordon, Jillian and Harvey, Charles and MacLean, Mairi (2013) Exploring contemporary entrepreneurial philanthropy. International Small Business Journal, 31 (5). pp. 580-599. ISSN 0266-2426

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Abstract

Research outside the field of entrepreneurship has long observed the involvement of super-wealthy entrepreneurs in large-scale philanthropic endeavours, while the world’s media has endowed them with celebrity-like status. However, entrepreneurial philanthropy is largely absent from the entrepreneurship research literature. In this paper, we address this gap both theoretically and empirically. We propose capital theory as an appropriate theoretical lens through which to view contemporary entrepreneurial philanthropy, and present fresh evidence relating to successful, wealthy entrepreneurs involved in significant philanthropic ventures. Our findings highlight the active deployment of a distinctive blend of different forms of capital as a defining feature of entrepreneurial philanthropy, and contribute to emerging discourses regarding the nature of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship as a socio-economic process, and to the sparse empirical analyses on entrepreneurial elites.