MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – According to a West Virginia University (WVU) researcher, religion may be a factor for prospective entrepreneurs becoming socially-minded. 

“This research is about religiosity’s role in the creation of entrepreneurial ventures,” said Nancy McIntyre, associate professor of management at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics. “While many of us, at some point in our lives, talk about wanting to start our own business, most of us don’t talk about starting a business that will solve a large social issue.” 

Nancy McIntyre, associate professor, WVU John Chambers College of Business and Economics (WVU Photo) 

The study, which will be found in the Journal of Business Research in February, found that when a person has a strong religiosity, specifically “a commitment to religious principles and activities,” it makes that person want to create a more conscience business. 

According to WVU Today, McIntyre found that religious beliefs and practices can “promote adherents’ sense of themselves as part of a networked collective rather than as isolated individuals.” There is also the benefit of having the support of one’s faith-based organizations.

The places this religiosity most helps is in improving a person’s confidence and granting them feelings of interconnectedness, which is also what makes them want to participate in social entrepreneurship.

McIntyre defined social entrepreneurship as being concerned with creating both private and social value, combining financial value with a desire to help others. 

“Many religions teach humility, self-control and modesty, which may be contrary to traditional entrepreneurship promoting wealth accumulation, financial freedom and materialism,” McIntyre said. “However, most religions also teach that we can and should help others, and the constant encouragement to do so builds our self-efficacy, helping us believe we can make a difference.”

According to WVU Today, to achieve her findings, “McIntyre surveyed 563 third- and fourth-year students enrolled in marketing, finance, accounting and human resource management programs at a large public university in Ghana. She asked them about topics like their confidence handling difficult situations, the importance of close friendships, their entrepreneurial intentions and religion’s role in their lives.”

McIntyre said she conducted the survey in Ghana because of their “well-established religious institutions, which play crucial roles in shaping citizens’ belief systems and values.” McIntyre also pointed out that faithful worship attendees have access to a larger network.

According to WVU Today, “her data might look different if she had surveyed participants from a society less devout than Ghana, where 71.3% of the population was Christian at the last census. In comparison, roughly 64% of Americans are Christian, with about 6% of Americans practicing other faiths.”