The Growth of Organizational Variety in Market Economies: The Case of Social Enterprises
23 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2010 Last revised: 11 Feb 2014
Date Written: February 1, 2010
Institutional and organizational variety is increasingly characterising advanced economic systems. While traditional economic theories have focussed almost exclusively on profit-maximizing (i.e. for-profit) enterprises and on publicly-owned organizations, the increasing relevance of non-profit organizations, and especially of social enterprises, requires scientists to reflect on a new comprehensive economic approach for explaining this organizational variety. The paper examines the main limitations of the orthodox and institutional theories and comes to assert the need for creating and testing a new theoretical framework, which considers the way in which diverse enterprises pursue their goals, the diverse motivations driving actors and organizations, and the different learning patterns and routines within organizations. The new framework of analysis proposed in the paper draws upon recent developments in the theories of the firm, institutional evolution, and motivational complexity to explain the presence of diverse types of organizations on a continuum ranging from purely for-profit and commercial forms to socially-oriented entrepreneurial ones.
Keywords: Social enterprises, organizational pluralism, neo-institutional economics, behavioral economics, organizational continuum
JEL Classification: J81, L31, P50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation