Collaborative governance and innovation in social enterprises

Furneaux, Craig W. & Barraket, Jo (2012) Collaborative governance and innovation in social enterprises. In 10th International Conference of the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR), International Society for Third-Sector Research, Universita Degli Studi Di Siena, Siena, Italy.

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While social enterprises have gained increasing policy attention as vehicles for generating innovative responses to complex social and environmental problems, surprisingly little is known about them. In particular, the social innovation produced by social enterprises (Mulgan, Tucker, Ali, & Sander, 2007) has been presumed rather than demonstrated, and remains under-investigated in the literature. While social enterprises are held to be inherently innovative as they seek to response to social needs (Nicholls, 2010), there has been conjecture that the collaborative governance arrangements typical in social enterprises may be conducive to innovation (Lumpkin, Moss, Gras, Kato, & Amezcua, In press), as members and volunteers provide a source of creative ideas and are unfettered in such thinking by responsibility to deliver organisational outcomes (Hendry, 2004). However this is complicated by the sheer array of governance arrangements which exist in social enterprises, which range from flat participatory democratic structures through to hierarchical arrangements.

In continental Europe, there has been a stronger focus on democratic participation as a characteristic of Social Enterprises than, for example, the USA. In response to this gap in knowledge, a research project was undertaken to identify the population of social enterprises in Australia. The size, composition and the social innovations initiated by these enterprises has been reported elsewhere (see Barraket, 2010).

The purpose of this paper is to undertake a closer examination of innovation in social enterprises – particularly how the collaborative governance of social enterprises might influence innovation. Given the pre-paradigmatic state of social entrepreneurship research (Nicholls, 2010), and the importance of drawing draw on established theories in order to advance theory (Short, Moss, & Lumpkin, 2009), a number of conceptual steps are needed in order to examine how collaborative governance might influence by social enterprises.

In this paper, we commence by advancing a definition as to what a social enterprise is. In light of our focus on the potential role of collaborative governance in social innovation amongst social enterprises, we go on to consider the collaborative forms of governance prevalent in the Third Sector. Then, collaborative innovation is explored. Drawing on this information and our research data, we finally consider how collaborative governance might affect innovation amongst social enterprises.

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ID Code: 60903
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Accountancy
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011. Please consult author(s)/creators
Deposited On: 24 Jun 2013 00:19
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2013 12:43

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