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Awareness Of Undergraduate Students Towards Social Entrepreneurship

Örgütsel Davranı
tırmaları Dergisi
Journal Of Organizational Behavior Research
Cilt / Vol.: 6, Sayı / Is.: 2, Yıl/Year: 2021, Sayfa/Pages: 122-133
Geliş tarihi/Recieved: 10.05.2021 Kabul tarihi/Accepted: 20.09.2021 Yayın tarihi/Published: 30.09.2021
Türel Özer ÖKSÜZOĞLU1*, Gizem Sebahat ÇOBAN2
1* Department of Business, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Cyprus Health and Social Sciences University,
Guzelyurt, North Cyprus.
2 Department of Education Management, Faculty of Education, Cyprus Science University, Kyrenia, North Cyprus.
*Corresponding Author
Social entrepreneurship can act as an intermediary to strengthen the economy, environment, society, politics, and education
locally and globally. A training platform is among the activities planned and implemented during the social
entrepreneurship activity process. In this context, this study aims to reveal the views, perceptions, and perspectives of
undergraduate students about social entrepreneurship with the information they have acquired in the entrepreneurship
course at the university institution. Since undergraduate students studying at universities are social entrepreneur
candidates of the future, their interests, expectations and knowledge levels constitute the main lines of the study. The study
adopted a qualitative research method, and ‘focus group interview’ and ‘unstructured observation’ were used in data
collection methods. The research study group consisted of 20 undergraduate students studying at a foundation university
in the TRNC in the 2019-2020 academic year. As a result of the study, it was observed that the information that the
students learned in the entrepreneurship course indirectly affected their awareness of social entrepreneurship.
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Social entrepreneurship, Undergraduate students, Focus group.
The concept of social entrepreneurship has become an important concept that is shaped and
developing according to the needs of today’s societies. This process has become the focus of
people and universities, and researchers (Günlü, 2015). One of the most important reasons for
the popularity of social entrepreneurship is the stories formed while seeking answers to the
questions of ‘why and how. Based on these entrepreneurship stories, there are situations such as
contributing to society, efforts for self-realization, serving, and finding solutions to social
problems (Günlü, 2015). Although there is no complete definition of social entrepreneurship in
the literature, there are definitions developed by practitioners and researchers according to
themselves. Dees and Hass (1998) argue that social entrepreneurship is loaded with different
meanings for different people.
The purpose of this research is to reveal the students’ views, perceptions, and perspectives on
social entrepreneurship with the knowledge they have acquired within the scope of the
‘Entrepreneurship’ course offered as an elective course to undergraduate students at universities.
Since undergraduate students studying at universities are social entrepreneur candidates of the
future, their interests, expectations, and knowledge levels constitute the main lines of the study.
Conceptual Framework
Social Entrepreneur Concept, Definition, and Characteristics
It is seen that the characteristics specific to social entrepreneurs are handled in five basic steps:
demographic characteristics, personal characteristics, cognitive characteristics, personal values,
and motivational characteristics (Caldwell
et al
., 2016; İçerli & Karadal, 2016; Işık & Aydın,
2017; Teulon & Fernandez, 2017). Demographic features of social entrepreneurs include
gender, age, education, and family background. Personality traits are perseverance, optimism,
internal locus of control, and risk-taking tendency. Cognitive characteristics include self-
efficacy, innovativeness, seeing opportunities, and leadership. Personal values are spirituality,
social responsibility, altruism, morality, honesty, and empathy. And finally, motivational traits
include the need for achievement, the need for superiority, and the need for autonomy
(Hoogendoorn, 2016; İnci, 2016).
In addition to the characteristics mentioned above, social entrepreneurs are also evaluated
within the scope of diligence. In her study, Burger (2006) states that the rigor dimension refers
to the discipline that a person develops while initiating, planning, implementing, and controlling
the results and the control processes she manages. It is stated that individuals with a high value
from the meticulousness dimension are organized quickly and easily, act relatively under
certainty, and plan. Therefore, they are perfectionists and adhere to the rules in their work
(Burger, 2006). It is important for social entrepreneurship stakeholders, who have conciliatory
and mediator qualities, to approach people who are victims of the problems created by other
entrepreneurs with empathy. In this context, reconciliation should be the most important
impulse for maintaining social entrepreneurship and efficient use of human resources (İrengün
& Arıkboğa, 2015; Gupta
et al
., 2020; Torres & Augusto, 2020). Social entrepreneurs are
expected to be motivated by the opportunities they define and the process of realizing their ideas,
not by financial gains due to inequalities in benevolence and monetization (Martin & Osberg,
Social Entrepreneurship and Development of Social Entrepreneurs
Social entrepreneurship applications, which Ashoka first established in 1980, have found a place
among the preferred business areas, especially in the last ten years, as a rising entrepreneurship
trend globally and especially in developing countries (Quarter
et al
., 2014). Two points seem to
be historically important in the development of social entrepreneurship; The first is the opening
of space for the phenomenon of social entrepreneurship and the second is the rapid rise of
interest in social entrepreneurship. The development of social entrepreneurship has variability
primarily due to the difference in the field of entrepreneurship it has. In this sense, it can be said
that there are two different areas of social entrepreneurship as practice and academia (Besler,
2010). In practice, it is accepted that social entrepreneurs have existed for centuries as actors
that offer deep and sustainable solutions to social problems.
Although historically, the evaluation of the concept of social entrepreneurship in Turkey is new
compared to European and American practices, it is possible to remember the phenomenon as a
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historical origin in the establishment process of the country. It is possible to express the names
of Yusuf Ziya Bey, the founder of Darüşşafaka in 1872, Princess Zeynep Kamil, the founder of
Zeynep Kamil Hospital in 1862, and Mesut Cemil, who founded the radio in the first years of
the Republic, as social entrepreneurs in the history of Turkey (Denizalp, 2009). Apart from these
individual and deep-rooted practices, it is worth noting that social entrepreneurship practices
were among the suggestions as a nation development model in the Republic’s early years. The
work titled In the Land of White Lilies (Petrov, 1923), which deals with the recovery of the
Finnish nation from difficult conditions with a struggle of high solidarity, was met with interest
by Atatürk. He demanded that this study, which can be presented as an example of the
contribution of social entrepreneurship to the development of a nation, should be included in
the curricula of military schools. İçli and Anıl (2016) state that there are historical roots in
Turkey’s social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurship issues. However, conceptually, the
arrival of these phenomena in the country is temporally delayed, and they still maintain the same
slowness at the point of development. Despite this, although a consensus has not been reached
in the literature yet, it is seen that the popularity and prestige of the related concepts in practice
have reached significant positive levels due to the entrepreneurial aspect. Although social
entrepreneurs have taken place in various fields in the history of Turkey, it is stated that the
social entrepreneurship naming and social entrepreneurship awareness started in 2000 in
Turkey (Denizalp, 2009; García-González & Ramírez-Montoya, 2020; Urban, 2020). At this
point, the activities of Ashoka and Schwab Foundations, which are among the foundations that
fulfill the function of networking and providing capital support with social entrepreneurs
worldwide, stand out in Turkey.
Within the scope of the study, ‘focus group interview’ and ‘unstructured observation,’ which are
data collection methods in qualitative research, will be used. Focus group discussions;are
frequently used in market research, health management research, sociology and communication
research, evaluations in applied fields, development of educational materials, and educational
research (Yılmaz & Oğuz, 2011). A focus group interview uses the effect of group dynamics in
an unstructured interview and discussion between a small group and the leader to obtain in-
depth information and generate ideas. Focus group interviews can be defined as a qualitative
data collection technique, which is carried out within the framework of predetermined
guidelines, by the logic of this method, prioritizing the subjectivity of the interviewees, and
attention should be paid to the discourse of the participants and the social context of this
discourse (Yılmaz & Oğuz, 2011). Considering these features and definitions of focus group
interviews, data were collected by conducting focus group work in short periods at the end of
the ‘Entrepreneurship’ course that undergraduate students with different demographic and
social characteristics take as an elective. The research study group consists of 20 undergraduate
students studying at a foundation university in the TRNC in the 2019-2020 academic year.
Interview questions for data collection in focus group studies were shaped according to the
subject of the relevant course. According to Krueger (1998), the order of the questions can be
as follows:
1. Opening
2. Introduction questions
3. Transition questions
4. Key questions
5. Research questions
6. Closing question
7. Final question (Yılmaz & Oğuz, 2011).
During the focus group meeting, while the moderator played an active role in the planning and
management of the interview, the rapporteur took notes on the details and questions of the
relevant meeting.
Another method to be used in the related research is ‘observation.’ Contrary to some
misunderstandings, observation can be made with the eye and all the sense organs. In case of
inadequacy of the sense organs, observation tools can be used to increase their power (Karasar,
The data collected through video and audio recordings, focus group work, and unstructured
observation notes taken during the relevant workshops with the participants were analyzed by
content analysis, qualitative research methods. The codes and anecdotes that emerged with
content analysis and thematic coding were evaluated in themes and sub-themes, and the findings
were obtained and interpreted.
our themes emerged in line with the findings of the focus group study and observation notes.
During the focus group study, the findings obtained in line with the people’s opinions were
categorized. These categories are as follows; ‘Perspective against entrepreneurship and
awareness of social entrepreneurship, Social entrepreneurship and social responsibility
distinction, Basic characteristics and educational status of social entrepreneurs, Social
entrepreneurship in career planning.’
Perspective on Entrepreneurship and Awareness on Social Entrepreneurship
The most striking situation in the findings, which were handled in line with the participants’
opinions, is that the individuals took the entrepreneurship course they took as a compulsory
elective by the university curriculum. In addition, the students stated that they were included in
this course to apply for the funds that they received financial support within the scope of their
career planning and entrepreneurs are supported, and to get a certificate. The results show that
the faculty member who comes to the course greatly influences the selection of this course. This
is an exceptional case that is handled outside the subject. The students gave the following
answers to the questions about the purpose of choosing the course. Contributing to the category
of international students, the participant stated that he took the course willingly, anticipating
that he would work in this field in the future in line with his ideas.
-Volkan: I bought it to apply for certificates, KOSGEP loans, etc. I thought it would come up
somewhere; we might need it.
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When the general views of the participants are examined, it is seen that only the social
entrepreneurship situation mentioned in the course is not known due to its absence in the
educational environments and curricula in the following periods or before, and it is seen that
the students have an unfamiliar approach to this concept. There is a conceptual link between
entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. It is known that although the goals in
entrepreneurship and the goals and characteristics in the social entrepreneurship environment
are different from each other, it is a concept that has a multiple dynamics from the characteristics
of the social entrepreneur. Although the concept of entrepreneurship is known among the people
as a person who started a new business, this concept has a rich history. The fact that the
participants were not aware of this concept can be shown among the remarkable findings.
-Altan: In one part of the textbook, there were different types of entrepreneurship; we saw social
entrepreneurs as entrepreneurs who exist to provide a social benefit. Although a social
entrepreneur is considered as a non-profit and only socially beneficial person, he/she needs to
generate profit and income to provide social benefit. Social entrepreneurs do this.
hen the participants’ perspectives towards the concept of social entrepreneurship are considered,
it is observed that this concept is generally associated with social responsibility. Since a person
put forward this idea, the perspective and course of the interview progressed from social
responsibility projects. The situation put forward by Umut, one of the participants in the non-
profit support of social issues and the situation of solving the problems and making them better.
-Payende: Giving direct help means giving directly to those who need it, but helping activities
means teaching people what they can do in line with their needs. In this way, they can meet their
own needs for a longer period of time. The social entrepreneur ‘teaches how to fish by not giving
the fish directly’.
Volkan, one of the participants, states that he heard about the social entrepreneurship course in
the entrepreneurship course. While conveying his opinion on the subject, they also aim to make
the names better in the society as an institution. It is emphasized by the participants that one of
the most important reasons for the construction phase of social responsibility projects is within
the scope of the companies’ prestige studies.
-Volkan: I heard it in entrepreneurship class too. The business can engage in social
entrepreneurship for strategic purposes in line with its own interests. In order to better show its
corporate name. It is possible for a business known for a bad situation to take such a path to
clear it up and clear itself. They can do social responsibility projects. I think there are only
charitable foundations and associations, as well as places that do this for strategic purposes.
Within the scope of the given anecdote, the participants draw attention to the importance of
their small work to make a difference and that these small ideas are important for the benefit of
society. Putting the ideas put into practice makes the lives of people and societies easier in
general, and all kinds of help also contribute to the creation of awareness
Even if it is a small business, it is very important to make a difference. As a social
entrepreneurship, plastic bag usage fee has come in Turkey, plastic bags harm the environment,
if a small entrepreneur produces bags from cloth here, it can make a difference in the
environment and an economic income can be obtained with small fees.What is produced is
beneficial to society.
The findings obtained in line with the participants’ opinions showed that the participants did
not have a good grasp of the concepts of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship and that
the information learned within the scope of the course was not permanent due to the lack of
application stages. It is seen that the concept of social entrepreneurship is tried to be defined by
students in the light of reasoning and other information, and students do not have pure
knowledge of the depth of the concept. In this context, considering that the concepts of social
responsibility and social entrepreneurship are intertwined, it is necessary to examine this
situation in the next category.
Social Entrepreneurship and Social Responsibility Distinction
Social entrepreneurship situations need to be built on the foundations of an idea from the start.
A detailed project and the project’s supporting stakeholders are primarily needed to realize a
work. Perçem, one of the participants, gave examples from the institutions where social
responsibility projects are carried out.
- Perçem: In order to start social responsibility projects, it is necessary to have the spirit of this
business. In order for a business to be realized, it is necessary to have a primary idea. An
institution cannot realize that project without having a social entrepreneurship phenomenon.
The holding, which made a project about vocational high schools under the name of social
entrepreneurship, became a social entrepreneur and realized a project.
Considering the answers given by the participants within the scope of the question about
whether social entrepreneurship situations are made within a certain framework or are one-
sided, it was concluded that all kinds of situations that directly or indirectly affect society are
included in the field of social entrepreneurship. Within the scope of the definition made by
Miraç, one of the participants, it is emphasized that the social entrepreneur should achieve his
goals with this material flow by earning a certain level of profit to benefit society. In this context,
social responsibility projects and activities of enterprises can also be discussed in the field of
social entrepreneurship.
-Miraç: I think it has a certain category. I think this situation is progressing with the aim of
smoothing out the problems in society. While entrepreneurship aims to rise with a certain idea
and make a profit, the social entrepreneur needs to make a certain profit in order to provide a
benefit to the society in order to achieve other goals. I don’t think it’s in a specific context. Apart
from the activities of the enterprises, they may aim to help people or animals on the street, in
cases of natural disasters, they may send a certain part of the profits of the business activities
there, which is actually a social responsibility.
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Within the scope of the opinion given by one of the participants, Altan, the goals that emerged
in line with the purpose and ideas of the social entrepreneur are also considered important.
Public awareness activities are perceived as the duty of social entrepreneurs. In line with the
participants’ opinions, it is expected that the problems that come to the fore in society will be
sought for solutions through such awareness-raising activities. It can also be evaluated as the
ability to stand and struggle against social problems.
Altan: You have to look at the entrepreneur. Is the entrepreneur only a social entrepreneur or
a commercial activity? To think of it as two types of entrepreneurs, the profit-oriented
entrepreneur appeals to a certain audience within the framework of his own business. A social
entrepreneur, on the other hand, does not appeal to a specific category or situation, and can be
open to ideas that will benefit all kinds of society. One day he may be defending animal rights,
the next he may be defending people. I can say that those who operate for a subject may be more
commercially concerned.
Considering the example given by Gizem, one of the participants, it is seen that one of the
common features of consumption-wide societies is to consume ideas. Talking about the fact that
entrepreneurship ideas and projects that stand out among the younger generation will fade over
time, the participant mentions that this is a trend and a fad that comes and goes and that the
effect of social responsibility and social entrepreneurship activities can be observed if they are
-Gizem: In order to gain status and prestige, it is important for both doing charity work and
getting a good place in the society. Social responsibility projects have become a trend in our
country at the moment, and this situation is also reflected in the youth. The attention of young
people is also gathered to a situation, then it becomes a trend, and this is how entrepreneurship
is now. Social entrepreneurship is not as a trend. I think it is a necessary condition, something
needed. There are companies that donate a certain part of their income to charities by increasing
their profits.
One of the participants, Altan, stated that within the example he gave on a local basis, there were
also educational activities as social entrepreneurship. The cases of building a school and a
hospital connected to a foundation are presented as examples of social entrepreneurship.
-Altan: There is even a social enterprise for education. We can say that our school was actually
founded by a social entrepreneur. It was established under the name of a foundation. This
foundation did not only provide universities and schools, but also provided aid and studies for
many issues. In this sense, it cannot be shown in a single category. I think we read that this
foundation and person is a social entrepreneur because he founded our hospital. Within the
scope of this foundation, many institutions such as kindergartens, high schools and universities
are located throughout the province.
When asked about the people’s realization of social entrepreneurship activities in the close circle
of the participants, it was concluded that examples of this were not observed in their close circles.
It is seen that it is difficult to find examples of this subject in society. However, only one
participant gave the following anecdote on the subject..
-Onore: I have a friend who is doing a PhD in the environment and is trying to build a tool for
air filtration. In their country, mining is done a lot and air pollution is related to this. He was
born in Cameroon where people live in bad weather. He has knowledge in chemistry and various
fields, he is doing his doctorate in the field of environment in France. He wants to establish a
facility about it.
Basic Characteristics and Educational Status of Social Entrepreneurs
When the personality traits of social entrepreneurs are considered, the general view is that they
should be assertive, have responsibility since childhood, be conscientious, and receive their
education in this direction. The characteristics stated by the participants are close to each other.
It is emphasized that the social entrepreneur should have leadership characteristics.
- Perçem: I think that a person who will have these characteristics will show himself even from
primary school. It certainly has certain features. If he can think widely, he simply does not
perceive people and events as they seem, with plain logic. I think he is in a constantly questioning
nature. I think it started from primary school and consisted of people who raised their hands
first, put themselves first, and took responsibility. I think that the first to express his opinion is
the person who does not keep silent in the face of injustice and opposes it. I don’t think this
situation has a certain age. Anyone from the age of six to sixty can show if they have these social
entrepreneurial traits. While walking on the road, a person who spits his gum on the ground
should be warned about the harm it causes, say that it is harmful to the environment, and be
able to react. A person sitting quietly in a corner cannot express his opinion in this way. This
should be in that person’s life.
Within the scope of the example given by one of the participants, Miraç, she states that they take
part in social responsibility projects in line with the income status of the people and that they
contribute to the society at this level.
-Miraç: One of the social media phenomena donated a significant portion of the video revenues
he received to the families of the martyrs and their children, and he also announced this. In
general terms, he both talks about the benefit of this situation and improves his image by
glorifying himself with what he does. When we look at his personality traits, I observe that he is
assertive and has good human relations, and has a more emotional structure than he seems.
Participants especially share the examples of social entrepreneurship they see in their
environment and on social media. With these aspects, it appears that they can distinguish these
projects and initiatives from others.
-Gizem: They become specific people and they create institutions for stray animals, for example.
Although no one knows the person who created the institution, money is sent to them through
certain channels and sites. They create a cycle by covering the fees sent as 5 TL and 10 TL as
food and shelter for stray animals. I think this is an example of social entrepreneurship. They
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also use social media, and act on sites where young people are frequent. The most important
characteristics of these people can be said to be assertive, courageous, and taking risks without
thinking about the end
Social Entrepreneurship in Career Planning
Considering the career thoughts of the participants, it would be correct to say that they did not
act in a planned manner for the future; they could not foresee this, and they did not think about
their social entrepreneurship situation. When social entrepreneurship situations are considered,
the main reason people do not include it in their career plans is that they do not know how to
earn economic income from this situation and tend to classic career situations. Participants
perceive social entrepreneurship as a social responsibility project alongside their work, rather
than treating them as the main job in their career processes. The findings stated as a result of the
interviews are in this direction.
- Altan: When we were little, nobody told us to be social entrepreneurs. We were not encouraged
or trained to support social responsibility projects, even at school. Frankly, I don’t think it could
be me, I think it should be basically an education, starting from childhood. People who aim for
social entrepreneurship by studying business are rare, for this there should be more different
departments and they should be directed to these from the basics.
Only one of the participants stated that he had thought about this career planning before. The
fact that the same participant has a relative who bases his/her social entrepreneurship status in
career planning in his/her immediate environment ensures that he/she also looks at this
situation warmly. Social interaction is considered important when planning a career and has
been the determining factor.
-Onore: I thought of planning such a career. I come from Rwanda and people there don’t have
financial means, but they have ideas. When I get back there, I would like to work as an investor
for people with ideas. It is beneficial in this sense that their ideas are formed by developing ideas
in the society. In this way, I can improve myself. It should consist of people who love the society.
While an entrepreneur goes to a place where there is an opportunity and realizes his idea there,
the social entrepreneur carries out his work in the region he loves and is connected to. He wants
to influence society.
The view that the participants must have a certain income to become a social entrepreneur is
dominant on the group. Although the discourses are in this direction, the opinions on the
question “Is financial resources necessary?” were gathered about the importance of moral
-Umut: Even if it does not help financially, it can also be in a position that provides moral
support, leadership and awareness in a problematic and open area of society. I don’t just think
in terms of money. Raising people’s awareness can also be called social entrepreneurship.
While the participants have an abstaining attitude about entrepreneurship, they have just
mastered the concept of social entrepreneurship. Although their research on this subject may
lead them to look more warmly in the future, there is a prevailing opinion that social
entrepreneurship should be integrated into education from childhood.
Although social entrepreneurship is defined as a derivative of entrepreneurship that aims to
make social change, it is very different from general entrepreneurship that focuses on creating
new value and making a profit. Social entrepreneurship has played an active role in working
principles for social progress in all areas of human life, such as art, culture, technology, and
much more. In this context, social entrepreneurship is an idea sensitive to social issues that affect
the entrepreneurial environment that affects the economic progress of the nation entrepreneurs,
especially those who have received education and training, have a vital role in the country’s
economy. Therefore, it is important to teach entrepreneurship at all educational levels and that
the university also creates a reliable entrepreneur. Considering the level of interest of social
entrepreneurs in today’s society, many educational institutions have started to encourage more
students to participate in social entrepreneurship initiatives, that is, to participate in social
entrepreneurial behavior. Adopting entrepreneurship in university life has become a vital issue
among entrepreneurship researchers. The university is an institution where students move on to
the next stage of their working life, and students decide where and how they will start their
working life after graduation. The state should start to support entrepreneurship, and at the same
time, encouraging and supporting university students to start their own businesses after
graduation will increase students’ awareness of social entrepreneurship.
As a result, in line with the purpose of this research, when the students’ views, perceptions, and
perspectives on social entrepreneurship are examined with the information they have acquired
within the scope of the ‘Entrepreneurship’ course offered as an elective course to undergraduate
students at universities, it is seen that students receive financial support in their career planning
and can apply for funds supported by entrepreneurs. It is seen that the students are unfamiliar
with this concept, because they are included in this course to get a certificate, only the social
entrepreneurship situation mentioned in the course is not known in the future or before because
it is not in the educational environments and curricula. From a different perspective, it has been
stated that the concept of social entrepreneurship is associated with social responsibility and that
businesses can engage in social entrepreneurship for strategic purposes in line with their own
interests. In addition, it was emphasized that the implementation of the ideas put forward to
make a difference facilitates the lives of individuals and societies, and that all kinds of help create
awareness. On the other hand, some of the participants mentioned that the entrepreneurial ideas
and projects that stand out among the younger generation will lose their impact over time, that
this is a trend and a passing enthusiasm, so that the impact of social responsibility and social
entrepreneurship activities can be observed if they are continuous. In addition, it has been
observed that the participants see and perceive social entrepreneurship as a social responsibility
project alongside their own work, instead of considering social entrepreneurship as their main
job in their career processes.
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