Published in: Entrepreneurship & Regional Development
Cited as: Florian Ladstaetter, Andreas Plank & Andrea Hemetsberger (2018) The merits and limits of making do: bricolage and breakdowns in a social enterprise, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 30:3-4, 283-309, DOI: 10.1080/08985626.2017.1413772
Despite growing literature on social entrepreneurship there is scarce research on how potentially conflicting social and economic objectives manifest on a micro-level and affect everyday management of social enterprises. Applying a strategy as practice perspective we identify sources of, and responses to, temporary and complete breakdowns in Die Bäckerei, a social enterprise that epitomizes bricolage behaviour. We find that diverging interpretations of the organization’s identity eventually result in diverging standards for evaluating performance and lead to breakdowns. We discuss why bricolage is both a source of and a solution to temporary breakdowns and show how practitioners mobilize the hybrid organizational identity as an additional and equally important practice to respond to temporary breakdowns. Furthermore, in the circumstance of complete breakdown the social enterprise has to engage in identity work finding a new situational balance between its social and economic objectives and competing logics. Finally, we show how breakdowns lead to an extension of the social enterprise’s repertoire and discuss how the combination of the social mission and bricolage behaviour enables the organization to eschew path dependency, mobilize alternative resources, and build improvisational strategy.
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Future research could apply multiple case studies in different socio-cultural contexts to overcome the limitations of single cases (Mair and Marti 2006; Parkinson and Howorth 2008; Short, Moss, and Lumpkin 2009) and add to the generalizability of our research findings. Furthermore, temporary breakdowns focus the researcher’s view on failures and contingencies and therefore overemphasize critical stages in organizing. Future research could look into practices of creative resourcing (Sonenshein 2014) or strategies of paradoxical intervention (Thorp 2014). We further suggest that investigating how social enterprises can creatively mobilize their hybrid identities to acquire resources or deal with problems is a promising avenue for future research.