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PhD Defence Marlies Koers-Stuiver | Social entrepreneurship based on personal unmet needs: Lead user characteristics' influences on nascent social entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurship based on personal unmet needs: Lead user characteristics' influences on nascent social entrepreneurs

Marlies Koers-Stuiver is a PhD student in the Department for Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Innovation Management. Her supervisor is prof.dr. A.J. Groen from the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences.

In this dissertation, I have examined lead user-based social entrepreneurship, focusing on whether personal unmet needs and lead user characteristics influence starting a social business. The lead user construct consists of being ahead of a trend and having high expectations of the developed solution in solving a personal unmet need. Personal unmet needs, derived from dissatisfaction with the current situation or the lack of a product or service, trigger users to start innovating. I used personal unmet needs as a starting point to examine social entrepreneurship. For this reason, this dissertation has two parts, with part 1 focusing on lead user-based social entrepreneurship and part 2 on personal unmet needs. The overarching research questions of this dissertation were: Do lead user-innovators become social entrepreneurs; if so, how? And: What are personal unmet needs’ roles in this? I have used various research methods to answer this research question. Besides a systemic literature review, I combined quantitative (survey) and qualitative (interviews) research in various ways. 

The answer to the main research question is that in some instances, lead users become social entrepreneurs; however, it is rare for an individual to score high both on ahead of trend and high expected benefits. It is more likely is that user-innovators becomes social entrepreneurs, because they have high expectations of the innovation-related benefits; however, they are not ahead of trend. This dissertation highlights the roles of personal unmet needs caused by exogenous events or life changes as a trigger for the user-based social entrepreneurial process. Further, I have emphasized the roles of market and governmental failures as a trigger of the user-based social entrepreneurial process.