Social enterprises (i.e. organisations pursuing a social goal/mission enabled by an economic activity, Dacin et al., 2010) have become increasingly relevant over the past several years, acting as one of the main channels through which societies address grand challenges (Harding, 2004). In the UK, 100,000 social enterprises contribute £60 billion to the economy and create 2 million jobs, while addressing various social issues (Social Enterprise UK, 2018). Social enterprises adopt different business models to create value for beneficiaries (an individual or group for whom the social value is being created) while simultaneously engage in commercial activities to achieve economic viability. For instance, some social enterprises serve beneficiaries through using funds generated by regular paying customers to produce items for donation. Other social enterprises include beneficiaries into the enterprise value-creating processes (Saebi et al., 2019). These social enterprises may employ the beneficiaries in their organisations or use them in their supply chains (source from them as upstream suppliers or use them as downstream distributors of finished goods) to achieve their social goals (Sodhi and Tang, 2014).
Social enterprises often achieve their goals through attracting resources from private sector corporates (Murphy et al. 2012; Tate and Bals, 2018). Corporates engage with social enterprises in different capacities such as sponsor, customer, supplier or collaborator. Social enterprises benefit from financial resources, access to market, materials, human and social capital, and knowledge and expertise that are provided by these partner businesses (Di Domenico et al. 2009; Sakarya et al. 2012). Furthermore, relationships with these businesses often help social enterprises to enhance their credibility as perceived by other organisations and increase their general political clout and perceived awareness in the market. Corporates also benefit from developing and maintaining relationships with social enterprises through gaining legitimacy within communities (Sakarya et al., 2012).
Nonetheless, social enterprise–private sector corporate relationships could be a source of challenge wherein often conflict of business logics, power asymmetry, and the heterogeneity of practices prevail (Di Domenico et al. 2009; Nicholls and Huybrechts, 2016; Pullman et al. 2018). Specifically, social enterprises and corporates have different aims, values, and business assumptions, often leading to two contradictory logics of business with conflicting norms of behaviour (Alinaghian and Razmdoost, 2021). For instance, to develop a social buying culture, corporate buyers must break down the existing preconceptions regarding social enterprises and resolve paradoxes arising from competing social and environmental agendas. Similarly, they need to create new institutions such as impact measurement and management control systems to embed and further extend social buying across their organisations. Additionally, although we have witnessed the successful scaling up of social enterprises and their efforts to introduce several new product and service offerings into the market in recent years, these efforts can be enhanced to fully utilise the corporate market potential by reducing the existing capacity and capability gap. This programme of research aims to unpack how social enterprises and corporates address these challenges and explore opportunities in their relationships.
Within this context, potential research topics in this area could include, but are certainly not limited to:
How can social enterprises target potential private sector corporates and persuade them to form a relationship?
How can government policies and national initiatives (e.g. Buy Social Corporate Challenge) play a role in facilitating the formation and management of these relationships?
How can social enterprises and corporates manage the conflict of logics that exist in the relationship?
What are the barriers, enablers and other contextual factors impacting social enterprise-corporate relationships?
The study will be expected to make an original contribution that will both advance the interorganisational relationships literature and be relevant and useful for practitioners.
This study can have several managerial and policy implications:
it can provide a critical evaluation of the existing government policies that are set to promote social enterprise-corporate engagement and generate insights to refine these policies or create new ones,
it can help national associations and local capacity building efforts to focus on strategic areas through which social enterprises and corporate buyers can build social impact ecosystems,
the research can provide social enterprises with practical frameworks through which they can better manage their marketing, supply chain and business development activities.
Please note: In addition to meeting the entry requirements, the applicants will be required to submit a research proposal, outlining the research they would like to carry out on corporate-social enterprise relationships.
Business & Management, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
3 years | Full time
Not defined yet
Only one is required
Please note that, in addition to meeting the entry requirements, as part of the online application, the applicants will be required to submit a research proposal – outlining the research they would like to carry out on the corporate-social enterprise relationships topic. Your proposal should demonstrate your interest and your potential to carry out independent research.
The proposal needs to:
Not defined yet
3 years | Full time
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