Incentives are often used to stimulate staff and students to perform a wanted behaviour they would not show otherwise. Social entrepreneurship frequently requires students and staff to engage for collective goals not linked to their benefits and not to ‘traditional’ academic goals such as publishing or graduating. Therefore, engagement for these collective goals might be hampered or limited. Incentives that provide individuals gains when performing social entrepreneurship can stimulate staff and students.

The goal

Incentives for social entrepreneurship engagement aim at integrating it into the portfolio of academic behaviour.

Examples of interventions at institutional level

Incentives for staff:

  • Community engagement as a promotion criterion
    Academic careers are mostly determined by research achievements, while other areas such education and community engagement are not relevant for promotion. Defining promotion criteria that recognise community engagement can stimulate this behaviour.
  • Frequently, academic staff does not have sufficient knowledge on how they can engage in their region, find collaboration partners, or employ their research and educational activities to support social organisations. Learning about these types of opportunities and seeing their work being applied in social change can support them to engage in social entrepreneurship. Higher education institution can support them through information, training and offering structures such as liaison or knowledge transfer offices.
  • Recognizing social entrepreneurship of staff through awards and prizes
  • Providing additional funds for collaboration with social sector organisations

Incentive for students:

  • Enhancing employability through service learning or collaborative research projects with the social sectors
  • Support for start-ups in the social sector
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Other relevant resources
  • n/a
Links to selected HEInnovate case studies
  • not covered in HEInnovate
Further reading
  • Ahoba-Sam, Rhoda (2019): Why do academics engage locally? Insights from the University of Stavanger. In Regional Studies, Regional Science 6 (1), pp. 250–264. DOI: 10.1080/21681376.2019.1583600.
  • Kopelyan, Sofya (2018): Academic ‘boundary work’ in a regionally engaged university. RUNIN Network (Working Paper of the RUNIN Network, 10). Available online at
  • Waghid, Zayd (2017): Cultivating social entrepreneurial capacities in students through film: implications for social entrepreneurship education. In Educ. res. soc. change 6 (2), pp. 76–100. DOI: 10.17159/2221-4070/2017/v6i2a6.