What Motivates Innovative Entrepreneurs? Evidence from a Global Field Experiment

Entrepreneurial motivation is important to the process of economic growth. However, evidence on the motivations of innovative entrepreneurs, and how those motivations differ across fundamental characteristics, remains scant. We conduct three interrelated field experiments with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Inclusive Innovation Challenge to study how innovative entrepreneurs respond to messages of money and social impact and how this varies across gender and culture. We find consistent evidence that women and individuals located in more altruistic cultures are more motivated by social-impact messages than money, whereas men and those in less altruistic cultures are more motivated by money than social impact. The estimates are not driven by differences in the type of company, its size, or other observable characteristics, but, instead, appear to come from differences in the underlying motivations of innovative entrepreneurs themselves.

Jorge Guzman and Jean Joohyun Oh are part of IGL's Research Network, and along with Ananya Sen, joined the 2019 Winter Research Meeting to discuss this research on "What Motivates Innovative Entrepreneurs? Evidence from Three Field Experiments"