Extending social entrepreneurship research : integrating theory and method

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2016
Thesis identifier
  • T14333
Person Identifier (Local)
  • 200856424
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • The social entrepreneurship research paradigm has been characterised as navigating cross-currents. Scholars are simultaneously tasked with strengthening existing theoretical foundations, while incorporating insights from external disciplines that may further elucidate the phenomenon. This thesis addresses both objectives. In terms of knowledge consolidation, the historical political economy of social entrepreneurship is considered in relation to encompassing social, economic and political trends. The roots of social entrepreneurship are traced to theological figures such as John Calvin who balanced commercial activities with an overarching mission to create social value. This practice was further established in the UK during the Victorian era, where entrepreneurial reformers, unsatisfied with the social welfare efforts of proto-state institutions, developed market-based social innovations that remain in existence. The more recent transformation of the economy is subsequently analysed to demonstrate how liberalisation of welfare provision, coupled with ideological trends towards smaller government, shapes contemporary social entrepreneurship. In relation to paradigmatic expansion and knowledge integration, this thesis aims to challenge the “relatively narrow range of metatheoretical assumptions” (Jennings et al., 2005: 146) in entrepreneurship research. In so doing, a framework for analysing social interaction is developed, providing an ethnomethodological perspective on the real-time functioning of institutional contexts. Utilising the unique epistemology and strict empiricism afforded by this framework, a novel perspective on hybrid identity tensions’ is revealed. An inductive multiple case study approach is used to examine how organisations configure absorptive capacity routines in order to develop social innovation capabilities. Using the same dataset, the entrepreneurial orientation (EO) of these firms is examined and a revised social entrepreneurship EO scale is presented. The thesis concludes by considering some of the macro-level barriers that are preventing greater impact from social innovation activities. It is proposed that synthesising social innovation with open innovation may ameliorate some of the challenges involved when implementing social innovations.
Advisor / supervisor
  • Carter, Sara
  • Shaw, Eleanor
Resource Type
Embargo Note
  • The electronic version of this thesis is currently under moratorium due to copyright restrictions. If you are the author of this thesis, please contact the Library to resolve this issue.