The Mechanisms of Performance in Social Enterprises

Project: Research

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Launched in the late 1970s, the political agenda to “roll back the state”, or the NewPublic Management (NPM; Hood, 1991) reform movement, saw a reduced role forgovernment (Pollitt and Bouckaert 2004) and increased importance of the non-profitsector. The failure of nonprofit sector (Salamon, 1987) in alleviating social problemseffectively, however, suggests an increased need for social enterprises (Eikenberry &Kluver, 2004; Terjesen et al., 2015) as an extension of the government’s arm to providepublic services that the state could not otherwise deliver “efficiently” (Defourny et al.,2014).Unfortunately, past research on social enterprises often lacks an empirical angle (Ho &Chan, 2010; Millar & Hall, 2013; Teasdale, 2012; Waddock & Post, 1991) or is stilldominated by small Ns and qualitative studies (Defourny & Nyssens, 2010; Millar &Hall, 2013; Galera & Borzaga, 2009; Teasdale, 2012). In contrast, the burgeoning interestin social enterprise (SE) research (Terjesen et al., 2015) suggests that social enterpriseresearch need to go beyond social entrepreneurs’ motivations (Miller et al., 2012),identities (Wry & York, 2015), and the institutional (Pache & Santos, 2013) environmentsof their organizations. In particular, much research is needed to understand socialenterprises’ performance and social impact as well as their implications on public policiesand administration.Given the importance of social enterprises as a third-party government (Jung et al.,2015; Salamon, 1987), it is valuable to investigate the impact of both organizational andpersonal factors on social enterprises’ performance. Thus, this proposal seeks to examinehow social entrepreneurs’ passion and compassion will interact with their dominantidentity to jointly affect the resources they can obtain, others’ trust on them, and thecreativity of their organizations. We propose two complementary studies to test therelationships among these important factors, especially their joint impacts on socialenterprises’ performance and social impact. Specifically, the first study will be based onsemi-structured exploratory interviews to explore the factors we identify above. Thesecond study will quantitatively test how these factors jointly affect social enterprises’performance using samples from Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK.Our research will contribute to our understanding of important factors and mechanismsfor successful social enterprises. The findings will help public managers to deviseappropriate policies to support organizational practices to improve social enterprises’performance.>/p>?


Project number9042432
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1722/01/19

    Research areas

  • Social entrepreneurship , performance , public administration , non-profit management , interdisciplinary