Sub-theme 4.2. Beneficiaries’ participation in social enterprises

Sub-theme 4.2. Beneficiaries’ participation in social enterprises

Although it would be tempting to replicate the research referred to above for a number of social enterprise industries, first a challenging theoretical issue has to be resolved. Even in the governance literature on for-profit organizations, the employees’ place in the governance structure is almost ignored, let alone the role of persons combining two important roles (beneficiaries and employees). Deriving theoretical insights, again departing from institutional theories and resource based insights, on how the interaction between the two roles impacts on organizational performance, would contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the functioning and performance of social enterprises.

In a first stage, a qualitative research procedure will be designed in order to elicit the governance mechanisms affected by employees/beneficiaries. Five industries will be selected as well as two organizations in each industry to visit, interviewing all concerned parties. This will allow us to reformulate, if necessary, or refine the hypotheses referred to above. In short, they deal with the following issues related to participatory mechanisms for beneficiaries:

Hyp 1: Expected and perceived performance, compared between beneficiaries/employees, managers, board members.

Hyp 2: Inter-industry and intra-industry comparisons of participation mechanisms.

Hyp 3: The major funding source and participation mechanisms.

Hyp 4: The configuration of funding sources and participation mechanisms.

At that moment, the ongoing research on nonprofit organizations will have reached the stage of an in-depth questionnaire based collection of data, based on a validated instrument. This will be adapted through pre-testing and re-validation to the specific situation of beneficiaries being also employees, enabling statistical testing of the hypotheses derived from the case study work.

A last step will be the comparison of the results obtained for nonprofit organizations in the ongoing research, and the ones obtained with the social enterprises, looking at similarities and differences, and trying to build on organizational theories to understand them, concentrating on the fact that most nonprofit organizations do not employ their beneficiaries, whereas many social enterprises do. By doing so, we are confident we will contribute to the theory in a domain which is important from a social point of view, and on which hardly any systematic theoretical insights exist.