Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine, drawing on organization studies and stakeholder theories, the organizational configuration that enables the social enterprise to succeed by combining social and economic imperatives in a sustainable way. Design/methodology/approach – The research project is based on the analysis of a multiple cross-national case study consisting of seven social enterprises that are active in the drug rehabilitation context. Multiple rounds of data gathering and analysis combined with within-case analysis and cross-case comparison enabled the authors to evaluate the perceived, declared and subjective organizational perspectives. Findings – Results suggest that organizational performance – measured as the ability to achieve social goals, generate resources and pursue sustainability over time – depends on the implementation of a participative organizational configuration defined by the interaction of six organizational components (i.e. time and space designed for collective activities, low degree of formalization, social control, centralized decision-making processes, transformational leadership style and a workforce structure based on social stakeholders as workers). The involvement of social stakeholders emerges as a distinctive feature in the social enterprise domain. Originality/value – The study contributes to extending the configuration approach to the social enterprise domain, also as a fruitful method to manage social stakeholders and to advance the discussion on hybrid organizations.
- ORGANIZATION CONFIGURATION
- SOCIAL ENTERPRISE