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Going It Alone Won’t Work! The Relational Imperative for Social Innovation in Social Enterprises

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Elizabeth Alexander



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Shifts in the philosophy of the ‘state’ and a growing emphasis on the ‘Big Society’ has placed an increasing onus on a newly emerging organizational form, social enterprises, to deliver innovative solutions to ease societal issues. However, the question of how social enterprises manage the process of social innovation remains largely unexplored. Based on insights from both in-depth interviews and a quantitative empirical study of social enterprises, this research examines the role of stakeholder relationships in supporting the process of social innovation within social enterprises. We find that social enterprises are adept at utilizing their relationships with stakeholders in the ideation stage of social innovation. In contrast, they often fail to harness knowledge and expertise from their partners during the social innovation implementation phase. Consequently, we propose a social innovation-stakeholder relationship matrix that provides social enterprises in particular with insight for developing stakeholder relationships to achieve their social innovation missions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Phillips W, Alexander EA, Lee H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Business Ethics

Year: 2019

Volume: 156

Issue: 2

Pages: 315-331

Print publication date: 01/05/2019

Online publication date: 23/06/2017

Acceptance date: 13/06/2017

Date deposited: 26/06/2017

ISSN (print): 0167-4544

ISSN (electronic): 1573-0697

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-017-3608-1


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