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Title: Dynamics of the morphogenetic social enterprise : a critical realist perspective
Author: Lucas, Iain
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 4973
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2016
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The overall aim of this research is to generate critical insights into strategic decisions made by social actors in the process of developing and managing a SE (social enterprise) that facilitate social change. This focus covered two areas of influence the agency of the social actor and the structures that surround a SE development. Embedded in a critical realist paradigm, an emancipatory stance is taken to SE, which recognises this phenomenon as having dynamic and emergent properties. The critical realist position, in which this research is grounded, calls for the need to be aware of the consciousness of individuals, their social relations plus societal structures and how all of these factors will have their own causal powers. However, crucially when these powers are put together a different reality may be observed. Therefore, this inquiry began with an exploration of the dilemmas faced by social actors when setting up and managing a SE which lead to a questioning of how SE could be meeting the needs of dominant agency structures such as a social investor. To help understand what might be happening two other theorists were introduced. Archer and her Morphogenetic Approach and Habermas and his Theory of Communicative Action. Archer provided an analysis tool that established a link between the social actor at a community level, the social action they take with others, and their interaction with agency structures. Habermas provided a focus on the social skills and knowledge of the social actor and how we manage the complexity of the world through sub systems such as economics, politics and science. These concepts have been expanded further by exploring Gramsci's concept of hegemony and counter hegemony. Gramsci opposed economic determinism by emphasising the political significance of tensions with social economic action that operates within a wider superstructure. If SE is part of the significant political tension that maintains status quo then how would a SE address issues of social change and aid emancipation, more specifically create alternative responses and paths and provide a range of skills that enable SE to find a consensus on decisions. How does SE become a counter hegemony? Bridging these theories led to the creation of an analytical dualism framework that incorporated the emergent interplay between structure and agency over time which, stimulated a reflective process. The resulted in an empirical investigation of twenty social entrepreneurs situated in social enterprises that serve a defined geographical community employing an orientational qualitative inquiry. This research led to the following significant contributions from this thesis. On a theoretical level the development of a new framework of social enterprise. This framework demonstrates how social entrepreneurs interact with agency structures and explicates underpinning processes of decision making and learning to manage emergent strategies in developing a SE. This framework has created a multi-level synthesis of the social entrepreneurs trajectory, at the micro individual level, with the meso relational dynamics of decision making around social purpose alongside the interface of meso-macro levels of emergent SE strategies, with a focus on how they interact to influence hegemony. The methodological contribution of the thesis lies in the operationalisation of a critical realist methodology to the social enterprise and social entrepreneurship domain which, entailed both deductive and inductive approaches. Two new techniques were introduced into the interviewing stage 'debating through visual stimuli' which enabled quality data to be forthcoming and the second was narrative within a semi structured interview to help reveal both identity and experiences of participants. The contribution to practitioners in SE provided indicators of what needs to be understood for success in social change. This takes the debate away from a purely organisational practice and refocuses decision making on the political and dialogical practices in which they engage. Especially to how individuals own set of circumstances, history and desires become integral to a SE whilst agency structures become intrinsic to the barriers not of the construction of SE but to the aim of social change.
Supervisor: Karatas-Ozkan, Mine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available