In Research


Year: 2020
Published in: Journal of Business Research.
Cited as: Klein, S., S. Schneider and P. Spieth (2020). “How to stay on the road? A business model perspective on mission drift in social purpose organizations.” Journal of Business Research.


Hybrid organizations like social purpose organizations (SPOs) frequently innovate their business models (BM) due to environmental constraints aiming to create social value while striving for economic viability. Competing demands may cause the SPO to drift to one mission, jeopardizing hybridity and the mission. However, research on mission drift is still in its infancy and lacks empirical evidence. We rely on a multiple-case study approach, using the BM as a unit of analysis to identify key choices and consequences concerning possible mission drift. Our findings show a complex set of choices and consequences that reinforce social value creation, facilitate and prevent mission drift in SPOs. We outline the role of stakeholders and transparency as key to prevent mission drift and to enhance legitimacy, challenging research on stakeholders’ constraining nature. We argue for investigating business model innovations’ consequences on mission drift and contribute to the literature on SPOs and business model innovation by providing evidence of cycles of choices and consequences, risking the SPO to disregard either the social or economic mission.


Visit the journal website to see access options for this document.