Prosociality in Business: A Human Empowerment Framework

Journal of Business Ethics 159 (2):361-380 (2019)
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This study introduces a human empowerment framework to better understand why some businesses are more socially oriented than others in their policies and activities. Building on Welzel’s theory of emancipation, we argue that human empowerment—comprised of four components: action resources, emancipative values, social movement activity, and civic entitlements—enables, motivates, and entitles individuals to pursue social goals for their businesses. Using a sample of over 15,000 entrepreneurs from 43 countries, we report strong empirical evidence for two ecological effects of the framework components on prosociality. We find that human empowerment lifts entrepreneurs’ willingness to choose a social orientation for their business, and reinforces the gender effect on prosociality in business activity. We discuss the human empowerment framework’s added value in understanding how modernization processes fully leverage the potential of social business activities for societies.



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