Investigating Failed Social Entrepreneurship: A ‘Process Research’ Perspective

  • Sushanta Kumar SarmaEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Business and Economics book series (SPBE)


This chapter suggests the use of process approach in studying of failed social enterprises. Process approach is examined by first looking at the epistemological underpinning of process and variance model followed by theoretical interpretation of organizational failure. It examines the current work on failure in social enterprise and highlights the suitability of process approach in studying the failure. The chapter argues that process research can be helpful in developing a complete understanding of social entrepreneurship phenomenon. Failures need to be looked as a stage in organizational change and not as an outcome. The existing theory on failure considers it to be an outcome and focuses on understanding the reasons and consequences of failure. With application of an event-driven model, failure can be conceptualized as an entity in flux and mechanism of failure can be studied through identifying events. The mechanism can throw more lights on how the temporality of factors can impact failure. Looking at failure through a process lens may able to address the stigma associated with it. There are few academic works existing on failure in social entrepreneurship and most of them take a variance model to understand failure. This chapter makes an attempt to explore the unchartered domain of failure through an event-driven model and discuss the possibility of using process research in studying failure.


Process research Organizational failure Variance theory 


  1. Abbott, A. (1998). The causal devolution. Sociological Methods & Research, 27(2), 148–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aldrich, H. E. (2001). Who wants to be an evolutionary theorist? Remarks on the occasion of the year 2000 OMT distinguished scholarly career award presentation. Journal of Management Inquiry, 10(2), 115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bacq, S., & Janssen, F. (2011). The multiple faces of social entrepreneurship: A review of definitional issues based on geographical and thematic criteria. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 23(5–6), 373–403. Scholar
  4. Cahalane, C. (2013). Why we must talk more about failure in social enterprise. The Guardian, February, 2013.Google Scholar
  5. Cameron, K. S., Sutton, R. I., & Whetten, D. A. (1988). Readings in organizational decline: Frameworks, research, and prescriptions. Ballinger Pub. Co.Google Scholar
  6. Chell, E. (2007). Social enterprise and entrepreneurship: Towards a convergent theory of the entrepreneurial process. International Small Business Journal, 25(1), 5–26. Scholar
  7. Cobb, M., Roser, C., Vailakis, A., & Tomasko, R. (2015), Causes for reflection. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring, 13(2).Google Scholar
  8. Coburn, J., & Rijsdijk, R. (2010). Evaluating the success factors for establishing a thriving social enterprise in Scotland. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.Google Scholar
  9. Dacin, M. T., Dacin, P. A., & Tracey, P. (2011). Social entrepreneurship: A critique and future directions. Organization Science, 22(5), 1203–1213. Scholar
  10. Dart, R. (2004). The legitimacy of social enterprise. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 14(4), 411–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Datta, P. B., & Gailey, R. (2012). Empowering women through social entrepreneurship: Case study of a women’s cooperative in India. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36(3), 569–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. DeTienne, D. R., Shepherd, D. A., & De Castro, J. O. (2008). The fallacy of “only the strong survive”: The effects of extrinsic motivation on the persistence decisions for under-performing firms. Journal of Business Venturing, 23(5), 528–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Foster, W., & Bradach, J. (2005). Should nonprofit seek profits. Harvard Business Review, 83(2), 92–100.Google Scholar
  14. Khelil, N. (2016). The many faces of entrepreneurial failure: Insights from an empirical taxonomy. Journal of Business Venturing, 31(1), 72–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Klarner, P., & Raisch, S. (2013). Move to the beat—Rhythms of change and firm performance. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 160–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Langley, A. (1999). Strategies for theorizing from process data. Academy of Management Review, 24(4), 691–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Langley, A., Smallman, C., Tsoukas, H., & Van de Ven, A. H. (2013). Process studies of change in organization and management: Unveiling temporality, activity, and flow. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lok, J., & De Rond, M. (2013). On the plasticity of institutions: Containing and restoring practice breakdowns at the Cambridge University Boat Club. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 185–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Maguire, S., & Hardy, C. (2013). Organizing processes and the construction of risk: A discursive approach. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 231–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mair, J., & Martí, I. (2006). Social entrepreneurship research: A source of explanation, prediction, and delight. Journal of World Business, 41(1), 36–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mair, J., & Marti, I. (2009). Entrepreneurship in and around institutional voids: A case study from Bangladesh. Journal of Business Venturing, 24(5), 419–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mellahi, K., & Wilkinson, A. (2004). Organizational failure: A critique of recent research and a proposed integrative framework. International Journal of Management Reviews, 5(1), 21–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nee, E. (2015). Learning from failure. Stanford Social Innovation Review, February 2018.Google Scholar
  24. Perrini, F. (2006). SMEs and CSR theory: Evidence and implications from an Italian perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 67(3), 305–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Perrini, F., Vurro, C., & Costanzo, L. A. (2010). A process-based view of social entrepreneurship: From opportunity identification to scaling-up social change in the case of San Patrignano. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 22(6), 515–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rescher, N. (1996). Process metaphysics: An introduction to process philosophy. Suny Press.Google Scholar
  27. Scott, D., & Teasdale, S. (2012). Whose failure? Learning from the financial collapse of a social enterprise in ‘Steeltown’. Voluntary Sector Review, 3(2), 139–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Seanor, P., & Meaton, J. (2008). Learning from failure, ambiguity and trust in social enterprise. Social Enterprise Journal, 4(1), 24–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Singh, S., Corner, P. D., & Pavlovich, K. (2015). Failed, not finished: A narrative approach to understanding venture failure stigmatization. Journal of Business Venturing, 30(1), 150–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sriram, M. S. (2010). Microfinance: A fairy tale turns into a nightmare. Economic and Political Weekly, 45(43), 10–13.Google Scholar
  31. Steyaert, C. (2007). ‘Entrepreneuring’ as a conceptual attractor? A review of process theories in 20 years of entrepreneurship studies. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 19(6), 453–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Swaminathan, A. (1996). Environmental conditions at founding and organizational mortality: A trial-by-fire model. Academy of Management Journal, 39(5), 1350–1377.Google Scholar
  33. Van de Ven, A. H. (1992). Suggestions for studying strategy process: A research note. Strategic Management Journal, 13(5), 169–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Van de Ven, A. H. (2007). Engaged scholarship: A guide for organizational and social research. Oxford: OUP.Google Scholar
  35. Van de Ven, A. H., & Engleman, R. M. (2004). Event-and outcome-driven explanations of entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing, 19(3), 343–358.Google Scholar
  36. Van de Ven, A. H, & Huber, G. P. (1990). Longitudinal field research methods for studying processes of organizational change. Organization Science, 1(3), 213–219.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA)AnandIndia

Personalised recommendations