Sustaining the Stakeholder Engagement in the Social Enterprise: The Human Resource Architecture

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4 Citazioni (Scopus)


In many approaches to social enterprise, researches focus on strategic and entrepreneurial issues. We turn the tables and we adopt the organizational theory perspective to suggest the design and the implementation of the Human Resource Management (HRM) practices to engage the different types of stakeholders in the social enterprise domain. Combining the stakeholder relationship approach and the social exchange theory, we propose a stakeholder configuration model for the social enterprise domain. Our discussion enables us to identify four different kinds of organization-stakeholder relationships, characterized by different types of stakeholder engagement; the first three kinds refer to the links with the actual stakeholders; the last one is about the possible future stakeholder liaisons. Each kind of relationship advocates a specific bundle of HRM practices to sustain the specific engagement types. An exemplary case study preliminarily confirms and explains our theoretical model. The research is based on the study of an emblematic Italian social enterprise, the Cometa Foundation, operating in the care, support and educations of disadvantaged children and young people. Cometa is well known in Italy as one of the emerging and most successful organization in the field and it is receiving more and more attention from public opinion and government. From a theoretical point of view, our results confirm the social enterprise field as a relevant domain to stretch both stakeholder and organization theories. From the stakeholder perspective, our data allow us to identify specific social stakeholder categories, and they challenge the traditional distinction between external vs. internal stakeholders. From the organization theory perspective, we propose an extension of the HRM architecture approach to different types of stakeholders other than employees, and our results support the configurational approach to the social enterprise people management. From a managerial point of view, our initial evidence provides new insights to help social entrepreneurs, social managers and practitioners to deliberately recognize the strategic role of the social stakeholders and to activate practices to deal simultaneously with them, according to their characteristics and to the nature of their relationship (i.e. engagement) with the social enterprise. The social stakeholders, such as social clients and volunteers, are more similar to internal employees than to external parties. Therefore we suggest that some HRM practices (usually reserved to the internal stakeholders, such as training and career systems) can be effectively extended to the social stakeholders. Moreover, different bundles of HRM practices are suggested for the other stakeholder categories according to the nature of the engagement that characterizes their relationships with the social enterprise.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospitePatterns in Social Entrepreneurship Research
EditorJill Bacq, Sophie Kickul
Numero di pagine24
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2012


  • Engagement
  • HRM architecture
  • Social enterprise
  • Stakeholder


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