Do the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals matter for social entrepreneurial ventures? A bottom-up perspective

Franziska Günzel-Jensen, Nicole Siebold*, Arne Kroeger, Steffen Korsgaard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Research on societal grand challenges has become a major theme in management research. Societal grand challenges require joint efforts by private, public, and social sector organizations and are described in the framework of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One major contributor to this framework are social entrepreneurial ventures. Aligning their interventions and indicators with the SDGs can provide them with great benefits such as facilitating resource mobilization and increasing legitimacy among stakeholders. The majority of research on SDGs tends to understand the SDG framework as inherently good, as a powerful compass and narrative to create social value and take action. However, taking-for-granted that social entrepreneurial ventures readily materialize the SDGs seems to neglect the question of whether they accept the framework and how an utilization may differ among them. Drawing on qualitative interviews of 15 social entrepreneurial ventures, we address this gap and identify three distinct types of SDG utilization, namely SDG evangelism, SDG opportunism, and SDG denial. Our study contributes to research on the intersection of social entrepreneurship and societal grand challenges by uncovering the roles of resourcefulness and deviance in SDG utilization. Furthermore, we identify trust between the United Nations and social entrepreneurial ventures as a determinat for SDG utilization and provide several practical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00162
JournalJournal of Business Venturing Insights
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Social entrepreneurial ventures
  • Societal grand challenges
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Utilization


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