Entrepreneurial Philanthropy
: An exploration of life course, location and motivation

  • Suzanne Hague

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Entrepreneurs have contributed to society for centuries in their philanthropic endeavours. They have drawn upon their own business practices, using their networks, knowledge, and wealth to support those in a less fortunate position. In many cases they have accumulated greater sums of capital in the process. The purpose of this study is to contribute to existing research on entrepreneurial philanthropy, and enhance knowledge towards why entrepreneurs are committed to providing beneficence with a certain locality. Specifically, it investigates the history, ideology and practice of entrepreneurial philanthropy, the life history and motivations of the entrepreneurs who become philanthropist, and the critical events to which this motivation gives rise. It considers the importance of accumulation of capital and connectivity to a specific place.

The study is exploratory, and uses a qualitative research methodology. The study is concentrated on northeast England, which is a region that has high levels of deprivation and social challenges in certain places. It focuses on four entrepreneurs using semi-structured interviews to create individual case stories and gather a rich narrative of the entrepreneur’s ‘back story’. Ten further interviews were undertaken to provide further depth and breadth to support the findings. These interviews used abductive thematic analysis to interpret the data and identify relevant concepts and themes. The sample consisted of entrepreneurs who had generated wealth in financial services, engineering, accountancy, law, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, IT, and software. The study does not include a minimum wealth threshold.

This study provides several theoretical and practical contributions. The construction of the FASS Framework contributes to the theory on entrepreneurial philanthropy, as it has created a means of establishing a typology of individuals who participate in localised giving. The findings also demonstrate the significance of the entrepreneur’s early life as a key motivating factor towards philanthropy. This may be in the form of an emotional connection to a place, person, or cause. The study also identifies the significance of critical incidents, and how unexpected happenings prompted the entrepreneur to act. Furthermore, the study found that for some entrepreneurs, philanthropy has helped legitimise their place in society. One of the key outcomes is that the entrepreneurs in this study are absolutely committed to creating social and economic value in the northeast. They live and work here, and in most cases ringfence their philanthropic activities here.
Date of Award11 Oct 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHayley German (Main Supervisor) & Rabake Nana (Co-Supervisor)

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