Reference : The Role of Legitimacy in Social Enterprise-Corporate Collaboration
Scientific journals : Article
Business & economic sciences : Social economics
Business & economic sciences : General management & organizational theory
The Role of Legitimacy in Social Enterprise-Corporate Collaboration
[en] Les collaborations entre entreprises sociales et entreprises à but lucratif : le rôle de la légitimité
Huybrechts, Benjamin mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > HEC-Ecole de gestion : UER > Economie sociale et systèmes économiques >]
Nicholls, Alex [> >]
Social Enterprise Journal
United Kingdom
[en] cross-sector collaboration ; legitimacy ; social enteprise ; corporate partnerships ; institutional theory ; interorganizational
[fr] collaboration inter-organisationnelle ; légitimité ; entreprise sociale ; partenariat entreprises ; théorie institutionnelle
[en] This research examines the collaborations between social enterprises (SEs) and corporations, which have been flourishing over the last decades. These collaborations differ from both philanthropic partnerships and classical business alliances. Unlike the former, these collaborations are centred on the joint development of a product or service which represents a business opportunity for both the SE and the corporation. Unlike the latter, these collaborations contribute at least partially to the pursuit of a social mission, which is the main driver of the SE and may motivate the corporation as well.

While most work on cross-sector collaboration examines the advantages of collaboration for the different types of organizations, we take a slightly different perspective, using institutional theory to look at the implications of collaboration in terms of organizational legitimacy. As organizational legitimacy is contingent on a given institutional field in which a number of stakeholders provide legitimacy based on patterns of appropriateness, questions emerge about what happens when organizations from different fields embodying different logics and responding to various legitimating stakeholders collaborate.

Surprisingly, while institutional theory has become a widely used theoretical framework, it has only little been applied to examine interorganizational collaboration, let alone cross-sector collaboration between social enterprises and corporations. This research aims to fill this gap in order to enrich both the understanding of interorganizational collaboration and its implications in terms of organizational legitimacy, and the knowledge and practice of cross-sector collaboration.
[fr] Cette recherche étudie les collaborations entre enterprises sociales et entreprises privées à but lucratif. Ces collaborations, différentes tant des partenariats phlianthropiques que des alliances commerciales classiques, se sont multipliées au cours des dernières décennies. Tandis qu'une littérature importante analyse les avantages de ces collaborations pour chacun des participants, cette recherche ne s'inscrit pas dans une perspective fonctionnaliste ; elle étudie plutôt les implications de ces collaborations en termes de légitimité organisationnelle, à l'aide d'un cadre théorique institutionnaliste. La légitimité organisationnelle étant contingente au champ institutionnel au sein duquel des parties prenantes légitiment l'organisation en fonction de normes et de valeurs spécifiques, il est particulièrement intéressant d'examiner l'évolution de la légitimité en cas de rencontre entre organisations incarnant des logiques institutionnelles et répondant à des parties prenantes différentes.
Centre d'Économie Sociale - CES

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