On the compatibility of benevolence and self-interest: philanthropy and entrepreneurial orientation

Tomasz Mickiewicz, Arnis Sauka, Ute Stephan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the philanthropy of owner–managers of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) investigating whether and why more entrepreneurially oriented SMEs are also more likely to engage in philanthropic activities. We find support for a positive link between entrepreneurial orientation (EO) and philanthropy in a representative sample of 270 Lithuanian SMEs controlling for alternative explanations. We highlight that philanthropy is relatively common among SME owner–managers and thus complement existing research which views philanthropy as sequentially following wealth generation. In line with our theorizing, further qualitative findings point to drivers of philanthropy beyond those considered in the dominant strategic-instrumental perspective. Building on social-psychological theories of motivation, we argue and confirm that philanthropy can also be an expression of owner–managers’ altruistic values; these values can be compatible and even mutually reinforcing with entrepreneurship. Our study is set in a transition economy, Lithuania, facilitating the analysis of heterogeneity in attitudes toward philanthropy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-328
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Small Business Journal
Issue number3
Early online date18 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

Bibliographical note

-Funding: European Commission: AIGIS project, Grant Agreement no. 225134; and ELUSI project FP7-SSH-2007-1, Grant Agreement no. 217622.


  • entrepreneurial orientation
  • motivation
  • philanthropy
  • values
  • transition
  • benevolence
  • self-interest
  • SME


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