"What influences social entrepreneurs to adopt particular social enterprise structures and why?"

ODOR, Julius C. (2019). "What influences social entrepreneurs to adopt particular social enterprise structures and why?". Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00236


Despite the founders of social enterprises being faced with a proliferation of structural forms to pursue their interests, social enterprise is often portrayed as a homogenous organisational category. This domain is increasingly rendered a governable terrain (Nickel & Eikenberry, 2016) through the development of Kitemarks, funder/investor requirements and government policy initiatives which shape and control what it means to be a ‘good’ social enterprise. Such mechanisms have been shown to strengthen institutional coherence and drive structural isomorphism (i.e. Similarity) (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Boxenbaum, & Jonsson, 2017). As yet, however, scant attention has been given to the ways in which Kitemarks, standards and funding criteria serve to prioritise and marginalise particular forms of social enterprise by bestowing or denying access to material (e.g. financial) and symbolic (e.g. legitimacy) resources. Further, the implications of such disciplining affects and how individual entrepreneurs respond to them has likewise received little attention from scholars. This thesis seeks to explicate this issue, positioning Kitemarks, standards and funding criteria as political artefacts that serve to discipline the structure choices of social entrepreneurs through prescribing desirable characteristics, behaviours and structures for social enterprises. This prescription becomes problematic in situations when adherence to such prescriptions is at odds with social entrepreneur’s own constructions of legitimate organising principles, which are perceived by them to be as socially and materially efficacious but prevent access to physical and symbolic resources. The qualitative data set for this thesis comprises fifteen in-depth interviews with social entrepreneurs and their advisors regarding structure choice. The analysis presented offers new insights into the dynamics of structure choice by social entrepreneurs, including the potential nodes of conflict between exogenous prescriptions and social entrepreneur’s own orientation to certain aspects of organisation and what social entrepreneurs actually do in the face of such conflict. I find that conflict is particularly prevalent in respect of ownership and decision-making. In order to resolve the tensions that they experience, social 4 entrepreneurs often ‘decouple’ their governance and/or organising practices from those prescribed in external standards or begin to create new structures and ways of organising on the margins of the social enterprise domain through a process of institutional entrepreneurship (Battilana, Leca, & Boxenbaum, 2009). This thesis places such structures within an extended structural typology, extending the work of Bull (2015, 2018), and culminates in the development of a practice model for social enterprise structure selection.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Ridley-Duff, Rory
Additional Information: Director of studies: Rory Ridley-Duff "No PQ harvesting"
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00236
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2019 10:54
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2023 15:04
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/25509

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