The literature has always pointed out that social enterprise (SE) worker have a specific motivational profile compared to their counterparts in for-profit organizations (FPOs).
Usually, SE workers have been identified as being intrinsically motivated. Nevertheless, the interpretation of what covers intrinsic motivation remains ambiguous in the literature on SEs. Hence, the first objective of this article is to use both economic and psychological literature in order to understand the exact nature of motivation to work for an SE.
We propose that rather than considering the motivation to work in SEs as intrinsic, it should be considered as prosocial. Further, the self-determination theory allows for the understanding that prosocial motivation may be based on different types of extrinsic regulation (introjected – identified – integrated) but not on intrinsic motivation.
The second aim of this article is to propose a discussion on managerial practices related to this new conceptualization. In particular, we discuss the practices that SEs might use, on the one hand, to attract and select workers who are motivated by their social mission, and on the other hand, to sustain and favor their employees’ motivation over time.