The management of social enterprise organizations
: a configurational perspective

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis concerns the management of social enterprise organizations from a configurational perspective. Social enterprises are approached as organizations that have social missions that are achieved through trading, which have existed historically and have received recent research attention. Configurations – the idea of wholes comprising connected elements - is an established research perspective in organization studies with areas that are less understood. This suggests that the combination of social enterprises and configurations has potential as a research area. 
The thesis addresses linked research questions around the performance of social enterprise organizations for which senior managers are responsible. The general literature about different views of organizations and their performance is compared with previous specific work on social enterprises, leading to the identification of a research direction that may assist in moving the argument forward. A theoretical framework is set out based on configuration theory aided by critical realist meta theory, within which is embedded a conceptual framework dealing with configurations, fits and fittings. 
The design for the methodological process is based on doubly sequential mixed methods. The first phase comprises a qualitative expert interviews stage followed by a quantitative cluster survey stage, and the second phase comprises four case studies that are viewed both qualitatively and quantitatively. The results of the first phase probes plausibility with initial findings together with guidance on how the study could proceed in the second phase. The results of the second phase builds plausibility through a pair of higher performing organization case studies and a pair of lower performing organization case studies. 
The discussion addresses the plausibility building phase by comparing the case studies relative to the theoretical and conceptual frameworks and other literature, and then reflects on the analytic generalization of the findings. The conclusion responds to the research questions, and sets out strengths and limitations of the research, together with its contributions. Finally, implications for further research and potential applications to advanced practice are offered.
Date of Award1 Jul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorJuan Baeza (Supervisor) & Rod Dacombe (Supervisor)

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