Using the institutional approach, this paper examines the influence of social progress orientation on innovative entrepreneurship from an international perspective. Using a multiple linear regression model with cross-sectional information from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the Indices of Social Development, the World Values Survey, the Hofstede Centre, the United Nations Development Programme and World Development Indicators, we find that social progress orientation dimensions such as voluntary spirit, survival vs. self-expression values and power distance were related to entrepreneurial activity. More specifically, the main findings demonstrate that high voluntary spirit had a positive and statistically significant impact on innovative early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA). In addition, necessity-driven TEA is highly discouraged in those societies with high voluntary spirit and self-expression values, whereas larger power distance increased the entrepreneurial activity driven by necessity. Based on these results, this study advances the literature by introducing and analyzing the concept of social progress orientation, by examining the factors that influence innovative entrepreneurial activity in light of an institutional approach. Also, this research could be useful for designing policies to foster entrepreneurial activity in different national and regional environments.