An Exploratory Case Study of Institutional Entrepreneurship: The Social Enterprise Mark in the United Kingdom.
Abstract: Social enterprises constitute highly relevant new actors, especially in the area of welfare provision. The gradual establishment of social enterprise landscapes has generally been considered favourably by policy makers and welfare managers. However, little research investigates the influencing factors that shape their evolution. This thesis explores the case of a British social enterprise’s – the Social Enterprise Mark’s – attempt to instigate change by establishing an accreditation scheme for ‘genuine’ social enterprises. The main theoretical framework is that of Institutional Entrepreneurship Theory. Methodologically, this thesis employs a qualitative research design. By means of semi-structured interviews, relevant data is collected from the Social Enterprise Mark and four additional social enterprises that have chosen to become accredited by the Social Enterprise Mark. These enterprises have been selected as they represent part of the institutional environment of the Social Enterprise Mark and thus allow an insight into the interaction among social enterprises. Key findings suggest that the nascent stage of the British social enterprise landscape has favourably influenced the Social Enterprise Mark’s introduction of an accreditation scheme. Social enterprises’ organizational hybridity, however, is likely to have had a decelerating effect, due to the multi-sector stakeholder composition it entails. Especially the latter aspect could serve as an entry point for further research and should be considered by policymakers and welfare managers in this context.
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