The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of the Board of Directors in encouraging entrepreneurship as a strategy for goal achievement among newly formed social purpose organizations.
In the absence of empirical work on board behaviour, a qualitative case study approach is adopted whereby multiple data collection methods – including in‐depth interviews and non‐participant observation – are drawn upon in the investigation.
Organizations found to be most effective in achieving their goal(s) had a higher level of entrepreneurial intensity than less effective organizations. Three opposing themes emerged when comparing the social processes adopted by the Boards. In embracing social processes that fostered entrepreneurial behaviour. Boards assumed the role of change agent, with the leveraging of social capital being instrumental. Other social processes encouraged behaviour that was reactive and risk adverse in nature, serving to reinforce the fiduciary role those Board had assumed.
A review of the extant literature indicates that this is the first reported empirical investigation of board behaviour. In having access to Board meetings, unique insights into social processes were garnered that might otherwise have gone undetected if interview data were relied upon as the sole source of evidence. As such, this paper makes a key contribution in beginning to address the void in our understanding of social enterprise governance. In particular, it highlights the influence of governance on entrepreneurship and goal achievement among newly formed social purpose organizations. When viewed through a social constructionist lens, the results indicate that while organizations strive to achieve both legitimacy and identity, effectiveness was greater among organizations that emphasized the latter.
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