The Difference Culture Makes: The Competitive Advantage of Reciprocal, Non-Monetary Exchange
33 Pages Posted: 21 May 2010
Date Written: May 8, 2010
Increasingly, the relationship of business to the communities in which it operates is the focus of attention among management scholars. In this paper I wish to go beyond the view that communities should be seen as stakeholders and/or as the target of corporate social responsibility. I will argue that certain cultural endowments in certain communities may in fact contribute a sustained advantage to enterprises embedded in those communities. I will focus on a concentrated form of this embeddedness: ‘Community-Based Enterprises’: ventures in which communities act collectively as both entrepreneur and enterprise. An outline of the conditions in which they typically arise, the features they characteristically display – especially their blend of social and economic goals – and their participation in the global economy, offer fertile suggestions as to the way that their cultural endowments contribute a rich supply of non-monetary resources to their operations. These resources can constitute an important and sustained competitive advantage. The article recognises important challenges faced by these remarkable ventures, before drawing some provisional conclusions and suggestions for further enquiry.
Keywords: Community-based enterprise, business and culture, gift economy, embeddedness
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