HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Alan L. Gleitsman Professor of Social Innovation, HKS; Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, HBS


We consider how the commercialization of social ventures may result from their founders’ personal experiences of commercial organizing. Building on theories of individual imprinting, we theorize that the commercialization of social ventures is influenced by two types of commercial experience: parental imprinting from the commercial work experience of a founder’s parents, and work imprinting from a founder’s professional experience within for-profit organizations. We find support for our theory based on analysis of a novel dataset of over 2,000 nascent social ventures and their founders. We further find that the marginal effects of additional work imprinting from a founder’s commercial experience decline with the longevity of this experience. We discuss implications of our findings for literatures on social ventures, imprinting, and hybrid organizations.


Lee, Matthew, and Julie Battilana. "How the Zebra Got its Stripes: Individual Founder Imprinting and Hybrid Social Ventures." Organizational Hybridity: Perspectives, Processes, Promises. Ed. Marya L. Besharov and Bjoern C. Mitzinneck. Emerald Publishing Limited, 2020, 139-165.