Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



John Holst, Sharon Radd, Kathleen Boyle


Social entrepreneurship continues to expand as a profession and discipline of study, yet much remains unknown about how social entrepreneurs contextualize their experience. The existing narrative centers on the heroic (and often male) individual entrepreneur who changes the world with innovative ideas and sheer grit. Academic literature tends to echo this dominant narrative, primarily utilizing a positivist economic approach when analyzing entrepreneurship. This qualitative study examines how women social entrepreneurs navigate their embedded cultural, social, and economic norms when launching a social venture. My findings illustrate embedded norms include gender, market-based, rational-linear, and individualistic norms. Yet participants’ embedded norms exist in juxtaposition to professional norms of entrepreneurship, which promote dominant masculinities. Women social entrepreneurs navigate embedded norms by adopting a process of creative churn, moving between considering, imagining, meshing, spinning, and learning. Ultimately, women social entrepreneurs experienced barriers between embedded norms and professional norms of entrepreneurship, then utilized a process of creative churn to navigate this chasm, and ultimately adopted power of existing hegemonies when creating a social venture.


social entrepreneurship, start-ups, embeddedness, women social entrepreneurs, gender and entrepreneurship, embedded gender norms

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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