Collective social enterprises for social innovation: Understanding the potential and limitations of cross-sector partnerships in the field of work integration
Article publication date: 22 June 2018
Issue publication date: 21 June 2019
Cross-sector partnerships (CSPs) are one type of collective social enterprise that has gained importance as a vehicle for social innovation (SI). The purpose of this paper is to understand the sources of the competitive advantage of CSPs as a strategic option for SI.
The authors propose a conceptual framework that integrates two interrelated dimensions of CSP competitiveness – resources and coordination – and their corresponding indicators. Then, the authors apply it to an in-depth case study through qualitative enquiry of a large CSP in the field of work integration during its formation and implementation stages (2012–2016). The authors employ a case study design with process tracing methods for increased validity, analyzing structured data from multiple sources (documentary, in-depth interviews with field experts and key decision-makers in coordinating partner organizations, direct observations) through narrative and visual mapping strategies.
Results illustrate the dynamic interaction between the key dimensions and factors that shape the potential and limitations of CSPs for SI and evidence three types of tensions which management influences partnership outcomes: hierarchical/horizontal commitment; competition/collaboration; and managerial efficiency/social transformation.
This research highlights the pivotal role of product development for the organizing of SI in a CSP context and proposes a conceptual framework that paves the way for future research on the sources of competitive advantage of CSPs, facilitating the assessment of their performance in terms of socially innovative outcomes.
The authors acknowledge funding from the European research project “Impact of the Third Sector as Social Innovation” (ITSSOIN, www.itssoin.eu), funded under the European Commission’s 7th Framework Program in response to a call to investigate the impact of social innovation generated by third sector organizations and civic participation. The project is a research collaboration between 11 European institutions led by the University of Heidelberg and ran from 2014 to 2017.
Rey-García, M., Calvo, N. and Mato-Santiso, V. (2019), "Collective social enterprises for social innovation: Understanding the potential and limitations of cross-sector partnerships in the field of work integration", Management Decision, Vol. 57 No. 6, pp. 1415-1440. https://doi.org/10.1108/MD-01-2017-0091
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