Headergrafik - Business School

Chair of Social Business

Our Research

We study organizations creating social or environmental impact in an entrepreneurial way. In particular, we are conducting the following research projects:

Negotiating Organizational Identity in Pluralistic Organizations Pluralistic - or hybrid - organizations such as nonprofits or social businesses are characterized by a set of competing organizational identity claims. We analyze, how do organizations discursively negotiate organizational identity? In a longitudinal interpretive case study, we investigate the discursive practices of identity negotiations in a large international children’s rights organization.

Social Business Models We study social business models and analyze how social businesses adapt their business models to changing environments.

Studies and Publications

Study on Corporate Social Innovation In spring 2016, we conducted a study on Corporate Social Innovation. We analyzed success factors for Corporate Social Innovation projects of multinational corporations from different sectors which meet a real social demand and contribute to growth and profitability of the firm. In particular, we compared different business models, and studied the organizational structure, team composition, communication strategy, as well as the financial and social value creation of the initiatives. In our study, we identified five types of Corporate Social Innovation approaches: the Product-specific approach, the Capacity-Building Approach, the Bottom-up Approach, the Leap Frog Approach, and the comprehensive Base-of-the-Pyramid approach. We identified three critical success factors: partnerships with players from different sectors, a targeted social approach which allows leveraging existing corporate capabilities, and a dedicated budget plus a dedicated team. Please contact us for further insights!

Leadership in Social Enterprise – How to manage yourself and the team On 11. June, 2014, the Schwab Foundation published a comprehensive manual on leadership challenges in social enterprise that was created with strong support by the EBS Chair of Social Business. For the third time, Prof. Dr. Andreas Heinecke, who was selected as Outstanding Social Entrepreneur by the Schwab Foundation in 2007 and serves as professor at the EBS Chair of Social Business, has led a task force from the Schwab Foundation community to compile helpful insights for social entrepreneurs and those contemplating to start a social enterprise. A first publication in 2010 was the Social Investment Manual, followed by a Governance Manual in 2012 that has received equally high interest from social entrepreneurs and practitioners in the field. As a foundation for the new ‘leadership manual’, the authors conducted a comprehensive study based on numerous interviews with experienced social entrepreneurs and their staff as well as a global survey. The results could confirm the popular notion that Social Entrepreneurs show almost ideal leadership characteristics: Visionary, charismatic, inspiring, highly ethical and values-driven, as well as empowering those around them – and therefore, facilitating strong commitment of their team members to their cause and organizations. But they struggle nonetheless to grow and maintain their organizations – so what are their key challenges in terms of leadership? From a certain developmental stage of their organizations, Social Entrepreneurs across the board struggle with one question: How can I build a strong management team, or at least find a suitable deputy head of the organization? Other key challenges that were identified relate to questions such as: How to delegate and how to build great successors? How to best allocate my own time and energy? How to align staff and stakeholder groups with so many different interests? And how does this relate to and depend on my own personal and professional development? Prof. Dr. Anna Krzeminska from Leuphana University / University of Queensland also supported in compiling the manual, which not only focuses on highlighting challenges but also provides a comprehensive toolbox to serve as a practical guidance for social entrepreneurs around the globe.

The Governance of Social Enterprises - Managing Your Organization for Success For the second time, Prof. Dr. Andreas Heinecke led a task force from the Schwab Foundation community to compile helpful insights for social entrepreneurs and those contemplating to start a social enterprise. A first publication in 2010 was called the Social Investment Manual. Based on its success, Prof. Dr. Andreas Heinecke, Founder of Dialogue Social Enterprise and Professor at the Chair of Social Business at EBS University, convened the task force during the World Economic Forum Meeting on Europe in Vienna in June 2011 where, as the next logical step after social investment, they identified Corporate Governance of Social Enterprises and, in particular, Boards. Boards bear the potential to greatly enhance the mission of a social enterprise, if careful thought goes into the right composition and management. Governing boards also have significant influence and can take social enterprises into different directions than intended by the founders. Among others, the publication addresses the question of how social enterprise leaders can protect the social mission of their organization through the governance structure. Prof. Dr. Ann-Kristin Achleitner from Technical University Munich also supported in compiling the manual, which is designed to serve as a practical tool for social entrepreneurs as well as to find its way into university courses.



Social Software in a Cross-Sector Social Partnership – Case Study Regional Refugee-Integration (Andreas Hesse) Refugee integration is one of the most relevant issues of cross-sector social partnerships all over Germany right now. In a longitude single-case study “Regional Refugee-Integration” we focus on how multiple sectors (business organizations, welfare organizations, governance authorities and agencies, private associations etc.) collaborate with each other under coordination of one party, and how a digital application (social software platform) supports this coordination. We examine how public-driven urgency cases like refugee integration fit in theoretical models of CSSP and if we can identify some characteristics of such partnerships with regards to collaboration, its success factors, problems, or stereotypical behavior. Moreover, we ask which factors are driving the implementation of such software. The methodological approach is a longitudinal single real time case with various qualitative and quantitative data sources. Preliminary results show interesting sectoral self-interests and a high potential for social software usage.

Social business models and their effect on sustainability (Elisabeth Niendorf) Social enterprises have attracted public attention as well scientific interest as they combine two aspects that at first glance seem incompatible: charity and business. This combination of two organizational identities from different sectors of society with partly diverging value systems, action logics and governance structures makes them prone to internal and external tensions arising from different institutional demands. This dissertation project aims at analyzing the development process of integrated activities which minimize the risk of mission drifts and enhance the sustainability of social enterprises as they serve both, the social as well as the commercial demands, and thereby align profit and impact objectives. The methodological approach focuses on qualitative research methods.

Completed Dissertations

Entrepreneurial Orientation in the Context of Social Venture Creation (Kathrin Lurtz) Social ventures have gained importance in the third sector, due to public budget cuts and the subsequent “marketization” of charitable organizations. So far, entrepreneurial activities of third sector organizations have mainly been studied on the individual level, focusing on the individual social entrepreneur and his start-up. This dissertation focuses on entrepreneurship on the organizational level in nonprofit organizations and investigates the role of entrepreneurial orientation in the founding process of a social venture.

Legitimation in Cross-Sector Social Partnerships (Dominik Rüede) Partnerships between businesses and nonprofits have received increased attention in academia and practice during the last twenty years. This research analyzes the legitimation process of such a cross-sector social partnership (CSSP). The main research question is: “How do cross-sector social partnerships legitimize themselves over time?” The motivation to do so results from growing demands of CSSP to justify themselves and the lack of research on this topic. The methodological approach is a qualitative case study design. Findings show the dynamics over time and the interplay of internal and external aspects.

Concept of Social Enterprise in Germany (Henning Engelke) Due to an increasing confrontation of the public sector with a complex range of social problems, the private sector has started to address these challenges by offering innovative, sustainable, and efficient solutions to social needs. This thesis examines the development of the concept social enterprise on different levels. On a policy-level, it derives scenarios which illustrate how societal, political and economic conditions influence the development of the concept in Germany and evaluates future opportunities for the concept. On an individual level, the thesis investigates how social entrepreneurs exploit given opportunities for their endeavor focusing on the construction of entrepreneurial stories to gain the support of potential stakeholders. The author uses the Delphi technique as well as qualitative research methods.

More than ‘Buzz‘? About the Promise and Practice of Social Entrepreneurship (Stefanie Mauksch) The thesis examines social entrepreneurship as a manifold set of practices targeted at entrepreneurial solutions to societal imbalances, and scrutinizes some of the common, major background assumptions: the myth of a harmonious relationship between the social and the entrepreneurial in social entrepreneurship, an assumed coherency between the concept and its manifestation in reality, or characterisations of social entrepreneurs as highly rational, principled, and considered persons. Methodologically, the thesis introduces organizational ethnography as a meaningful way to approach these newly-born organizations and their learning processes.

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