Doctoral Dissertation Research in DRMS: Where Does Innovation Come From? Exploring the Dynamic Processes of Organizing and Managing Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Project: Research project

Project Details


The past several decades have witnessed an exponential rise in social entrepreneurship (SE) in hopes of solving a variety of complex social problems (e.g., poverty and education inequality). In the United States, the number of nonprofit organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service increased by 24 percent from 2000 to 2010 (Urban Institute, 2012). Yet, while the field of SE has received much attention in the management and organization literature in the past two decades, the promise of the unique theoretical contribution of SE scholarship across disciplines, including innovation, networks, institutions and social movements, and nonprofit management, remains largely untapped (Dacin, Dacin, & Tracey, 2011). This research engages a fundamental question for SE: What factors influence social ventures’ creation of social innovations? By integrating institutional logics theory, proposed studies focus on the embedded agency of social ventures and how plural institutional logics (i.e., market logics and community logics) enable or constrain the type and degree of social innovations created by social ventures. Additionally, drawing on existing organizational innovation research, it also seeks to understand how plural institutional logics influence social ventures’ use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and interorganizational networks to organize and create social innovation. To fulfill these theoretical goals, the proposed research relies on surveys of a total of 3,000 social ventures. Intellectual merit. The proposed research makes three contributions to current scholarship in management, organization studies, network science, and information systems. First, this research systematically draws on large-scale datasets and uniquely explores SE at the meso-organization level of analysis, in contrast to most empirical SE research that has been qualitative, based primarily on case studies. Second, this research extends institutional logics theory to examine how multiple institutional logics influence social ventures’ ICT use, configuration of interorganizational networks, and creation of social innovations. As such, it contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the heterogeneity in which organizations respond to institutional plurality. Third, the proposed project sheds light on the organizational, technological, structural, and institutional factors that contribute to social innovation in public welfare domains. Broader impacts. Beyond its intellectual merits, the proposed project makes important contributions to society. First, this project takes the initiatives to use large-scale dataset to systematically summarize the current state of SE in the United States. The best practices identified in the research will inform the improvement in social innovation creation and diffusion across communities. Second, this project has the potential to inform the public and policy makers on the mechanisms underlying successful or unsuccessful social ventures. It also has important public policy implications -- namely if governments and other institutional funders should devote resources to mandating social ventures’ development of collaboration networks and ICT use. Third, the graduate Co-PI and one undergraduate student will gain extensive experience and valuable interdisciplinary training in mixed-methods social science research, including survey research and social network analysis.
Effective start/end date5/15/174/30/19


  • National Science Foundation (SES-1730079)


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