This chapter aims to understand how partnerships and networks can aid the development and growth of organizations whose goal is to foster social inclusion along the agro-food supply chain, with particular reference to the social entrepreneurship sector.
The chapter draws on a framework proposed by Newth and Woods (2014) to identify the main drivers of resistance to the development of social entrepreneurship. The empirical evidence is based on a single case, involving an Italian social enterprise, Semi di Libertà, which produces high-quality artisan beer. Case material included an analysis of organization documents and interviews with key actors.
The case study shows how Semi di Libertà faced different types of resistance, related to formal and informal institutions and market drivers, and leveraged partnerships with other actors in the ecosystem. Some of these partnerships were planned a priori to overcome specific problems (e.g., the Prison’s Authority, Mastri Birrai). Other partnerships were developed “by chance” (e.g., “peer” associations) but turned out to be particularly important to deal with the above resistances.
The case study methodology prevents the authors from generalizing too far past the obtained results. However, key elements from the case, such as the relevance of “spontaneous” partnerships and those with “peer” organizations, could be taken into account for similar initiatives in different contexts.
Recent literature has highlighted the relevance of partnerships in scaling social enterprises but has not explored the dynamics whereby these partnerships are created and developed. This chapter provides some preliminary evidence of how partnerships can be used to overcome the resistance limiting the growth of social entrepreneurship and the sustainability of socially inclusive initiatives.
We would like to thank all the participants to the Workshop “Organizing Supply Chain Processes for Sustainable Innovation in the Agri-Food Industry” held at Politecnico di Milano in October 2015 who gave us stimulating inputs from which this chapter moved on. We would also thank Professor Worley for his commitment and his valuable suggestions for the chapter.
Mapelli, F., Arena, M. and Strano, P. (2016), "Inclusive Innovation and the Role of Partnerships: The Case of
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