The Formation and Interplay of Social Capital in Crowd Funded Social Ventures


O. Lehner - The Formation and Interplay of Social Capital in Crowd Funded Social Ventures - Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2014, pp. 478-499


The multi-levelled processes taking place in Crowdfunding (CF), when tapping a large heterogeneous crowd for resources, and the often fundamentally different intentions of individual crowd members in the case of highly desirable social ventures with little prospect for economic gains, may lead to a different logic and approach to how entrepreneurship develops. Using this under-institutionalized sphere as both, context and subject, the author seeks evidence and a new understanding of entrepreneurial routes by using the sociological perspectives of Bourdieus’ four forms of capital as a lens on 36 cases of social ventures. In the cases, opportunity recognition, formation and exploitation could not be distinguished as separate processes. CF and sourcing help form the actual opportunity and disperse information at the same time. In addition, the ‘nexus’ of opportunity and entrepreneur is breached in CF of social causes through the constant exchange of ideas with the crowd, leading to norm-value pairs between the funders and the entrepreneurs. Issues of identification and control are thus not based upon any formal relationship but based on perceived legitimization and offered democratic participation leading to the transformation of social capital (SC) into economic capital (EC). Success is based upon the SC of the entrepreneurial teams, yet the actual resource exchange and transformation into EC is highly moderated by cultural and symbolic capital that is being built up through the process.