In Research


Year: 2020
Published in: Social Enterprise Journal
Cited as: Lorenzo-Afable, D., M. Lips-Wiersma and S. Singh (2020). “‘Social’ value creation as care: the perspective of beneficiaries in social entrepreneurship.”


Purpose This paper aims to characterise the “social” in social entrepreneurship (SE) by examining social value creation (SVC) from the perspective of vulnerable beneficiaries within a developing country context. It uses the lens of care ethics to garner insights into SVC based on what beneficiaries care about in their work engagement with social enterprises.Design/methodology/approach The exploratory paper implements a multiple case study approach to theory building, which considers the rich, real-life developing country context wherein much SVC occurs. Data collection primarily uses in-depth interviews with beneficiaries in accordance with socially sensitive research methodologies involving vulnerable participants.Findings The findings offer an ethical view of SVC that is premised on what is of value to beneficiaries in SE. The authors find that SVC is a multi-dimensional and reciprocal process that is shaped as beneficiaries work for social enterprises. The reciprocal nature of the process engenders beneficiary altruism, which may heighten vulnerability and lead to the dark side of SE.Social implications Many of the problems SE tries to address are situated in developing countries. The findings may enable social entrepreneurs, policymakers and social enterprise organisations to develop more responsive and more impactful solutions to social problems in developing countries. They further suggest that beneficiaries must not be looked upon merely as passive recipients of value but as active participants in the SVC process.Originality/value This paper contributes to critical SE discourse by giving voice to beneficiaries in SE.


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

Recommendations from this resource

Future Research

1. Future research could further study the nuances of beneficiary engagement, as these could have an impact on experience.

2. For example, would a beneficiary’s level of engagement (whether they are highly involved with the social enterprise as reflected in having dual roles or reporting to work on a regular basis versus coming to work whenever the need for income arises) affect their experience of social value creation?

3. Does the experience of social value creation differ for beneficiaries who engage with social enterprises as an organised group (as in the case of cooperatives) as opposed to those who engage individually?

4. The sample of social enterprises could be expanded through further research to examine the conditions under which beneficiaries could be exploited.