In Research


Year: 2019
Published in: European Management Review 16.3 (2019): 799-813.
Cited as: Agafonow, Alejandro. “Design Thinking and Social Enterprises: A Solution‐Focused Strategy for Social Enterprise Research.” European Management Review 16.3 (2019): 799-813.


Had we had the vantage point of centuries of experimentation with social enterprises, separating the wheat (i.e., successful social enterprises) from the chaff, empirical social enterprise research could be on the verge of making a contribution. But since social enterprises as a mass phenomenon are relatively new, the output of empirical research must be taken very carefully because it may actually support doomed business models. It is thus submitted that a design thinking approach to social enterprise research that involves a solution‐focused strategy of knowledge production is needed. The latter consists of addressing the internal inconsistencies of a well‐established general theory when trying to account for social enterprises, similarly to how a designer addresses the shortcomings of an original chair design to come up with something more suitable. It is argued that a solution‐focused strategy of knowledge production will make scientific breakthroughs in the field of social enterprises possible.


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