This paper aims to extend the understanding of the ways in which social entrepreneurs give sense to and legitimize their work by introducing a rhetoric-orientation view of social entrepreneurship (SE).
This study uses computer-aided text analysis and computational linguistics to study 191 interviews of social and business entrepreneurs. It offers validation and exploration of new concepts pertaining to the rhetoric orientations of SE.
This study confirms prior untested assumptions that the rhetoric of social entrepreneurs is more other, stakeholder engagement and justification-oriented and less self-oriented than the rhetoric of business entrepreneurs. It also confirms that the rhetoric of both types of entrepreneurs is equally economically oriented.
This research makes new contribution to the SE literature by introducing three new orientations, namely, solution, impact and geographical, which reflect distinctive rhetorical themes used by social entrepreneurs, and by revealing that social entrepreneurs use terms associated with other, stakeholder engagement, justification, economic, solution, impact and geographical orientations differently than business entrepreneurs.