Make WISE wise again! Rethinking the Management of Hybridity in Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISE)

University essay from Lunds universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: Work integration social enterprises (WISE) work to help the disadvantaged to enter the labour market and find a job, thereby working to correct a market failure. Research has identified hybridity, the simultaneous work towards two, sometimes contradicting, missions as a core concept of social enterprises. This hybridity can lead to tensions though, which can result in a deviation from the social mission. To maintain the balance between the WISE’s two missions, these tensions must be managed carefully. Current literature on the topic is fragmented and we attempt to create a comprehensive framework on tension management in WISE. To do so, we rely on a single case study. Sindbad – Social Business is a WISE operating in Austria, helping disadvantaged adolescents to find a suitable job or further education through a mentoring programme. Data will be generated in interviews with several current and former members of the organisation to collect several different perspectives and triangulate where possible to get a profound understanding of the organisation and its context. We find that 1. existing academic literature has so far assumed that tensions can be controlled through management once they arise. Our case company, Sindbad, prevents tensions before they arise. 2. The previously identified tools for tension management rest on the assumption that managers are aware of those tensions. This awareness has not received sufficient scholarly attention despite its importance in tension prevention and we make it a prerequisite of our framework. 3. Sindbad identified a suitable gap which allowed it to avoid competition with existing government agencies. This allowed Sindbad to obtain the support and recognition that is so important to its success; it facilitated a cooperative relationship with the government; and facilitates the successful prevention of tensions. Our results and the framework close an important gap in academia and advance research into the management of hybrid organisations and, more specifically, SEs and WISEs. In light of our key finding, we call for a re-evaluation and a rethink of managerial practices in SEs.

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