The role of organisational values in value creation: comparing social enterprises

Fitzhugh, Helen (2017) The role of organisational values in value creation: comparing social enterprises. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Social enterprises (SEs) are businesses that aim to create positive change for individuals and society. They are part of a society-wide discussion over how to create ‘social’ value, where the focus is often on finding efficient and effective means of ‘doing good’, but without consistent recognition that ‘good’ is a subjective term. Critical scholarship directs us to pay more attention to this subjectivity. This study explored how beliefs about what is ‘good’ - i.e. values - influence the experiences SEs provide for the people they aim to benefit.
The mixed methods exploratory study drew on data from an online survey of SE organisational values and case-situated interviews across 14 English SEs. Quantitative and qualitative data were gathered on organisational values, decision-making and perceptions of value. The multi-faceted analysis approach reflected the influence of applied critical realism on the research design.
The study found that certain ‘process’ values - i.e. beliefs about how SEs should operate - were surprisingly common across diverse cases. Coalescing around these values appeared to allow SE practitioners to downplay variation in ‘outcomes’ values - i.e. end-state preferences. While many SE practitioners described their preferences as common sense, clear differences in outcomes values belied claims of neutrality.
These findings were used to posit a five point conceptual model of how values influence value creation. This academic contribution underpins two propositions with implications for policy and practice. Where values are instrumental in influencing the design and emphasis of activities carried out by SEs, the political implications of adopting different outcomes values should be more commonly recognised. Secondly, SEs should be aware that for the full translation of their intentions into perceptions of value creation, their activities must align with stakeholder expectations. Both participative and persuasive approaches to bringing about this alignment also carry with them politically significant choices.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > Norwich Business School
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2018 10:53
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2018 10:53

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