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The hologram effect in entrepreneurial “social commercial” enterprises: Triggers and tipping points

Denise Crossan (Centre of Non Profit Management, School of Business, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland)
Pat Ibbotson (Department of Business, Retail and Financial Services, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland)
Jim Bell (Department of International Business, University of Ulster, Derry, Northern Ireland)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 25 October 2011




The paper's purpose is to present qualitative findings describing entrepreneurial differentiations between non‐profit organisations along a social economic continuum. The paper aims to focus on those non‐profit organisations classified as “social” and those more entrepreneurial behaving organisations classified as “social commercial”.


The data were taken from recent research examining current classification systems and performance measurement indicators applied to not‐for‐profit and for‐profit organisations in an Irish regional context. Having reviewed the extant literature on classification systems and measurement indicators for non‐profit organisations, the social economic continuum model and theoretical measurement framework were developed. In order to test the models, the study employed a pragmatist mixed methodological approach; employing quantitative surveys and in‐depth interviews.


The paper presents key entrepreneurial differentiating themes between “social” and “social commercial” organisations, and discusses the triggers that produce a “hologram” effect or style of management in the third sector.

Practical implications

The identification of entrepreneurial themes allows for the analysis of the non‐profit organisations from overly social in their activities and presentation, to overly economic in their behaviour. It allows for a greater understanding of the management processes employed by non‐profit organisations to create social value and meet their social aims and purpose.


The paper carries out a unique inter‐sector comparison of non‐profit organisations to determine entrepreneurial differentiations amongst non‐profit businesses employing entrepreneurial methodologies and behaviours to achieve social good.



Crossan, D., Ibbotson, P. and Bell, J. (2011), "The hologram effect in entrepreneurial “social commercial” enterprises: Triggers and tipping points", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 655-672.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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