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Doing good while making profit: perspectives on reconciling multiple objectives in social enterprises

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Title: Doing good while making profit: perspectives on reconciling multiple objectives in social enterprises
Authors: de Cuyper, Lien
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: This dissertation looks at social ventures that create social impact whilst being self-sustainable. By adopting three different theoretical perspectives, various aspects of organizations with multiple social and economic objectives are highlighted. Study 1 examines the hybrid nature of social ventures. It examines the conditions under which social ventures develop hybrid value creating activities to deal with their economic and social goals. Based on data from 11 social ventures, the findings are based on a combination of an inductive analysis and fsQCA analysis. The focal point of the study is how the interplay of the exclusiveness of the beneficiary target group, the overlap between customers and beneficiaries, and the visibility of the social mission in the value offering, influences the extent to which social ventures hybridize their means. The study contributes to the literature on social ventures specifically, and hybrid ventures more generally. Study 2 is based on a qualitative and inductive ethnographic study of a social venture. It sheds light on how organizational members have an imprinting effect on a venture beyond the founding phase. The model proposed in this study illuminates how the imprinting process is an ongoing, two-way interaction between the individual and the organizational level. The analysis shows how the initial imprint of the venture attracts people with specific social identities, and how bottom-up involvement of organizational members impacts on the imprint through three processes: projecting, sharing and contextualizing. This study adds to the literature on imprinting on one hand, and to literature on social ventures on the other hand. Study 3 is a comparative study of two social ventures bringing electrification to rural communities in a bottom-of-the-pyramid market. The study unpacks how these ventures design governance models to align the heterogeneous interests of their stakeholders - including customers, employees and local communities – with their own organizational social and economic objectives. On one hand, the results of the analysis show how the two ventures differ in terms of a customer versus community focus in their governance approach. On the other hand, the analysis shows how this divergent take on governance is driven by a different perception of stakeholder categories, a dissimilar conceptualization of beneficiaries of the social mission, and a different extent of adopting relational versus transactional approaches towards the stakeholders. The study is a response to calls for research on governance in the context of organizations with multiple social and economic objectives.
Content Version: Open Access
Issue Date: Oct-2017
Date Awarded: Feb-2017
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/44558
DOI: https://doi.org/10.25560/44558
Supervisor: Clarysse, Bart
Wright, Mike
Department: Business School
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Imperial College Business School PhD theses

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