Published in: Organization Studies
Cited as: Child, C. (2019). “Whence Paradox? Framing Away the Potential Challenges of Doing Well by Doing Good in Social Enterprise Organizations.” Organization Studies 41(8): 1147-1167.
Scholars and critics tend to regard social enterprise as a paradoxical organizational form. And yet those who are closest to the apparent paradox in at least two prominent social enterprise industries?fair trade and socially responsible investing?are not inclined to regard their work as paradoxical. How is this so? Drawing upon, and then extending, the sensemaking literature, I argue that practitioners of social enterprise do not experience their working conditions as paradoxical because they frame away the potentially paradoxical elements of their work. Specifically, they employ three frames: looking at the big picture, engaging with potentially paradoxical conditions rather than turning from them, and making favorable comparisons that ease the paradoxical strain. These insights form the basis of a refined model of sensemaking in organizations, which accounts not only for how members of organizations deal with paradox but also how they come to recognize (or frame away) paradox in the first place.
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