Caught between "Two Worlds": Using commercial activities to pursue a social mission - contending by nature or compatible in practice? A case study of Stockholms Stadsmission SecondHand

Detta är en D-uppsats från Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för företagande och ledning

Sammanfattning: There is a rising tendency for non-profit organizations to form commercial ventures to finance their social missions; commonly referred to as social enterprises. This thesis aims to provide a rounded conception of how these organizations manage their institutional demands by drawing upon two streams of research: prevailing organizational beliefs in the form of institutional logics and resources and mechanisms employed in aligning their non-profit and for-profit missions; not previously collectively utilized. We paint a historical portrait of organizational meaning by examining Stockholms Stadsmission SecondHand [SSSH] after transitioning into a work-integration social enterprise and selling their training services to public constituents; and consequently, what led them to do so in the first place. The thesis is guided by the following research questions: Which institutional logics exist in social enterprises standing at the crossroads of multiple sectors What do these logics encompass How do they develop Can they co-exist If so, how The employed research approach is a qualitative single-case design, entailing twenty one interviews with Stockholms Stadsmission's employees, other Stadsmission's employees and external experts. Our findings indicate that institutional logics are not limited to social enterprises' sectorial belonging, but should be further nuanced; where we besides the theoretically expounded overarching Social-Welfare- and Commercial logics identified four sub-logics taking place in SSSH and their parent organization. These logics count a Christian-Ethos logic (stemming from a religious ideology and a social mission), two different forms of a Charity-Retail logic (one leaning more towards a social- and the other towards a commercial mission) and a Work-Integration logic (equally embodying social and commercial missions). We furthermore recognize that logics may take place both as consequences and antecedents to change, where institutional entrepreneurs and structural overlaps initiated by the parent organization play prominent roles in driving changes. Moreover we notice that institutional logics are able to co-exist and act as complementary when equally embodying social-welfare and commercial elements of the prevailing missions and logics. In the case of SSSH this was facilitated by the Christian-Ethos value foundation, where we identify that selective coupling of contrasting elements was ultimately achieved and manifested in a new integrative Work-Integration logic. Lastly, we argue for the utilization of both for-profit and non-profit mechanisms; as crucial for countering the risk of mission conflict. The main practical implication of this thesis suggests aligning the nature of commercial operations employed by the social enterprise in relation to their parent organization's social mission as detrimental for obtaining legitimacy and social capital from the multifaceted institutional environment.

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