In Research


Year: 2020
Published in: Journal of Social Entrepreneurship
Cited as: Erpf, P., E. Butkevičienė and R. Pučėtaitė (2020). “Between de Jure and de Facto: Embedding Western Concepts of Social Entrepreneurship in Post-Socialist Reality.” Journal of Social Entrepreneurship: 1-28.


This article takes a historical perspective to explain the development of the concept of social entrepreneurship, divergence between the forms of social enterprises (SEs) de jure and de facto in a post-Socialist society and approaches to typical tensions experienced by SEs as hybrid organisations. In this respect, the paper presents a framework of eight contrasting conceptual dimensions (i.e. possible institutional tensions) based on the analysis of prior social entrepreneurship studies and identifies respective tensions experienced by SEs based on data from Lithuania. The data were generated from semi-structured interviews (N = 11) with social entrepreneurship experts and from a survey with a semantic differential method in a sample of the participants (N = 98) in the largest conference on social entrepreneurship in Lithuania. This study concludes that understandings of social entrepreneurship in Lithuania are blurred by a dichotomy between SEs de jure and de facto which is set by current legal acts. The findings also indicate that social entrepreneurship insiders no longer perceive any controversy between social mission and businesslike activities. However, external attitudes as expressed in experts’ interviews may still hinder SEs’ attainment of social impact, one of the three dimensions (founding motives and innovation types being the other two) that is little reflected by social entrepreneurship insiders of a post-Socialist society in which the phenomenon is at a nascent stage. Directions for further research to bring contribution to institutional theory are suggested.


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Future Research

1. Further research could study responses to typical tensions in social entrepreneurship in other socio-cultural contexts to construct respective frameworks and identify contextual factors affecting the understanding of social entrepreneurship.

2. Future research should be based on a larger sample in order to conduct more complete analyses of the tensions experienced by SEs in a certain socio-cultural context, clearly distinguishing between respondents from SEs de jure and de facto, and taking into account other countries

3. Further research could explore how the tensions are managed in more established/ mature SEs de jure and developing SEs de facto by case studies to make respective contribution to theory.