The role of “antagonistic” assets in Social enterprises

Social entrepreneurship, hybrid organizations and B-Corps

The role of “antagonistic” assets in Social enterprises

Simone Poledrini

In the last two decades, Social enterprises (SEs) have been studied from many different perspectives and approaches, such as their financial structure (Achleitner, Knafl and Volk 2014, Spiess-Knafl and Jansen 2014, Périlleux 2015), their different models at international level (Defourny and Nyssens 2017, Poledrini 2018), their various legal forms (Cafaggi and Iamiceli 2009, Fici 2016, Galera and Borzaga 2009) the theoretical framework (Santos 2012, Coraggio et al. 2015, Poledrini 2015), and so on. However, all of these different contributions miss to consider SEs as organizations with strategic resources.

Indeed, since SEs compete with corporations in markets, in order to be successful, they should have a strategic advantage over their main competitors. Profit is generated by a sustained competitive advantage (Barney 1991), and a sustained competitive advantage is based on strategic resources that competitors do not have, or they have to a lesser extent. In such a perspective, SEs are hybrid organizations in a way that combine a social mission with financial sustainability (Battilana et al. 2015, Santos, Pache and Birkholz 2015). They can have such financial sustainability thanks to their strategic resources. According to Hockerts (2015), hybrid organizations are characterized by providing better services rather than corporations because hybrid organizations employ disadvantage people who have skills that corporations have missed: “blind people, for example, tend to have much more evolved auditory and sensory skills. This allows them to pick up on the emotions of people they interact with. This ability to “get” how their interlocutor feels just from paying attention to voice cues is particularly valuable in the case of telemarketing“ (Hockerts 2015: 93-94). However, although this topic is relevant, only few authors (Alberti and Garrido 2017, Hockerts 2015, Manning et al. 2017) have taken such perspective in consideration so far. Therefore, there is a gap to be filled.

In light of such consideration, the present article aims to fill that gap answering the following interrelated research questions: (i) do SEs have sustained competitive advantage? Furthermore, if yes, (ii) what are the main SEs strategic advantage?

#Firm resources #Hybrid organizations #Social enterprises #Strategic advantage