Published in: Journal of Business Venturing Insights
Cited as: Islam, S. M. (2020). “Unintended consequences of scaling social impact through ecosystem growth strategy in social enterprise and social entrepreneurship.” Journal of Business Venturing Insights 13: e00159.
Scaling social impact is regarded as the main currency in social enterprise and social entrepreneurship. Many social enterprises scale their social impact through ecosystem growth strategy, under which they indirectly address targeted social problems by growing and/or sustaining a supportive social enterprise ecosystem through activities such as organising advocacy campaigns and supporting other social enterprises to grow. However, the existing literature is largely biased towards the success stories of ecosystem growth strategy. Countering this “success bias”, this article presents a framework describing how, under certain conditions, scaling social impact through ecosystem growth strategy can create unintended consequences. In doing so, this paper also challenges the prevailing reductionist view of ecosystem growth as a social impact scaling strategy and provides a more reliable and comprehensive account of this scaling strategy. This article hopes to stimulate future research on greater understanding and management of unintended consequences of ecosystem growth strategy in social enterprise, as well as delineating the boundary conditions of this strategy with regard to scaling social impact.
Recommendations from this resource
1. Social entrepreneurs and practising managers should not consider the wholesale adoption and implementation of ecosystem growth strategy to scale social impact. Rather, while implementing ecosystem growth strategy to scale social impact, they need to remain open and vigilant to refine their activities to better reflect the important subtleties of the context in question.
2. Social entrepreneurs should recognise that ecosystem growth strategy is not a panacea for scaling social impact; rather, this strategy can backfire under certain conditions.