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Vulnerable social enterprises: sensemaking of the COVID-19 crisis in the Czech Republic

Ondřej Kročil (Department of Economic and Managerial Studies, Palacky University Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic)
Michal Müller (Department of Economic and Managerial Studies, Palacky University Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic)
Jaroslava Kubátová (Department of Economic and Managerial Studies, Palacky University Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic)

Social Enterprise Journal

ISSN: 1750-8614

Article publication date: 28 February 2023

Issue publication date: 11 April 2023

191

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing on Weick’s sensemaking perspective, this study aims to describe how Czech social entrepreneurs shape the shared meaning of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and what approaches to the crisis the sensemaking process leads to.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on the principles of grounded theory. Through in-depth interviews with 25 social entrepreneurs, it captures the entrepreneurs’ experience of the COVID-19 pandemic in the context of their understanding of social enterprise identity. Interviews with experts in the field of social entrepreneurship were also conducted to help achieve a deeper analysis of the entrepreneurial cases.

Findings

Results of research show that despite the obstacles, most social entrepreneurs arrive at a positive redescription of the crisis. Enterprises not affected by the pandemic adopt a conventional approach. The most vulnerable enterprises are paralyzed and wait with uncertainty for future developments in their enterprise’s situation.

Practical implications

As knowledge of vulnerabilities is a key prerequisite for crisis prevention, this research can serve as a useful material for business incubators and other institutions that provide mentoring and expertise to start-up social entrepreneurs including focus on crisis management implementation.

Originality/value

This study complements the theory of crisis sensemaking with the level of social entrepreneurship, which is characterized by a dichotomy of social and business goals that results in a specific shared meaning of identity which is tied to perceptions of vulnerabilities. This study describes the influence of perceived identity on coping with a crisis.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This article was supported by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic within the project TL04000013 “Social entrepreneurship in the Czech Republic during and after the COVID-19 pandemic: Development and implementation of crisis management”.

Citation

Kročil, O., Müller, M. and Kubátová, J. (2023), "Vulnerable social enterprises: sensemaking of the COVID-19 crisis in the Czech Republic", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 144-166. https://doi.org/10.1108/SEJ-06-2022-0054

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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