SnO events

22 May 2014

SnO Monthly Meeting: Co-authored paper presentation by Christian Seelos and Johanna Mair

  • When: 22/05/2014
  • Where: SnO meeting on HEC campus

“Organizational closure competencies and scaling: A realist approach to theorizing social enterprise” presented by Johanna Mair, Professor of Management, Organization and Leadership at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and Hewlett Foundation Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society; and Christian Seelos, Academic visitor at the Said Business School and Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.

 Abstract: Social entrepreneurs create novel approaches to social problems such as poverty. But scaling these approaches to the dimension of the problem can be a difficult task. In the social enterprise sector, the subject of scaling has become a key dimension of organizational performance. This paper advances the scholarly literature on the scaling of social enterprises, a literature which is currently in an embryonic stage and characterized by conceptual ambiguity and fragmented perspectives. 

Johanna Mair and Christian Seelos question the ability of organizations to “socially engineer” desired outcomes and introduce a new construct -organizational closure competence. Anchored in realism, this construct provides a basis for productive approaches to social engineering. They elaborate on the importance of organizational closure competencies for scaling, derive a series of propositions, and develop ideas for future research and for practice.

Research, practical and social implications –Applying a realist lens allows us to add empirical rigor to research on social enterprises and scaling. Our approach constitutes a move from rich narratives to causal models and informs the way we design and evaluate efforts to address important societal challenges.

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