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Social enterprise and effectiveness: a process typology

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to address the lack of conceptualisation within the emerging field of social enterprise, the aim is to contribute to a better understanding of process effectiveness and potential. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The literature is drawn upon in providing a rationale for focusing on process, for selecting an appropriate organising framework, and for developing the typology and its key dimensions. Findings ‐ In proposing two polar opposite "ideal types" ‐ one based on traditional concepts of non-profit organisations and one that employs entrepreneurship as a strategy for achieving social aims (such as poverty and marginalisation) ‐ the process components (activities, people and organising) and their interrelationship are explained. The dimensions of each component that facilitate or constrain entrepreneurship are conceptualised along a continuum, whereby a predisposition toward either end of the continuum forms the basis of classification. Upon assessing each process component, an overall determination of type can be made. Effectiveness ‐ innovation in dealing with the challenges of social exclusion and marginalisation; increased self-sufficiency and sustainability ‐ depends upon the extent to which the process components are congruently configured to foster entrepreneurship. Originality/value ‐ With conceptualisation in its infancy, the emphasis to date has been on the similarities between social and commercial enterprises. Here, it has been focused on the key differences in process among social enterprise initiatives, thereby contributing new insights into social enterprising and its capacity for effectiveness. In explaining the impact of differing types on outcomes, practitioners and policymakers can develop more realistic expectations of what can be achieved.
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Keywords: Enterpreneurialism; Entrepreneurs; Innovation; Sustainable development

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 22, 2009

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