Business as Mission Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

David M. Craig, PhD, Chair

Second Advisor

David King, PhD; Brian Steensland, PhD; Katherine Badertscher, PhD; Chao Guo, PhD


The focus of this study is the experiences of eight individual evangelical social entrepreneurs within their congregations. What type of legitimacy do they seek and/or receive for? Do they sense any pressure to conform/motivations to act relative to their congregation’s values/identity? Do these relationships encourage or discourage their entrepreneurial orientation/intensity and in what ways?

The primary research question is “how does embeddedness in an evangelical faith community affect the experiences and expression of social entrepreneurial orientation and intensity for evangelical faith-based social entrepreneurs, if at all?”

The study identifies three types of congregations in terms of their relationship to the social entrepreneurs in their communities. Two are entrepreneurial, two others are supportive, four are non-supporting.

Three areas of tension emerged that highlighted the experiences of the entrepreneurs within their communities of faith in different ways and to various degrees. The first is a tension between the sacred and secular, which is a question about whether entrepreneurism is itself a sacred calling and whether sacred activities and profit motives can mix.

The second tension is between differing visions of what it means to do good. This is fundamentally about diagnosing the problem efforts at doing good are attempting to ameliorate. The entrepreneurs in this study generally agree that the problem is both viii personal and societal and requires a holistic transformational approach to discipleship and social entrepreneurship.

The final tension is between institutionalism vs. movements. Movements tend to be somewhat chaotic and allow freedom for adherents to take risks and test ideas whereas institutions tend to restrict and control in the interest of preserving focus on mission.

A key finding is that regardless of the posture of the various churches, the entrepreneurs in every circumstance maintained their social entrepreneurial orientation. If they could not find support for their entrepreneurial efforts within their existing community of faith they may or may not continue to maintain the same level of commitment to that community while seeking support elsewhere, but in all cases, their level of entrepreneurism remained high.