In Research


Year: 2021
Published in: Scandinavian Journal of Management
Cited as: Sudhir Rama Murthy, Kate Roll, Alastair Colin-Jones,
Ending business-non-profit partnerships: The spinout of social enterprises,
Scandinavian Journal of Management, Volume 37, Issue 1, 2021, 101136, ISSN 0956-5221,


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Business-non-profit partnerships are expected to create sustained impact, yet they often remain temporary or episodic. By using relationship ending theory and drawing on partnership types from Austin and Seitanidi (2012a), we explore the termination of business-non-profit partnerships and connect how partnerships end to their potential long-term impact. Specifically, we ask: How and why do business-non-profit partnerships end? And, what is the relationship between partnership type and partnership endings? Through interviews and focus groups, we identify two partnership endings: ‘exit’ and ‘spinout.’ The former is the expected severance of ties due to dissatisfaction or the accomplishment of an intended outcome. The latter is more intriguing. As illustrated through two case examples, successful partnerships can create financially self-sustaining social enterprises that continue tackling the chosen problems independently. We argue that spinning out a social enterprise offers a pragmatic pathway that precludes deeper integration between partners – contrary to what is often proposed in the partnership literature – and is best understood as a relationship ending process.


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