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The longitudinal evolution of social enterprises

PGR-P-494

Key facts

Type of research degree
PhD
Application deadline
Friday 5 June 2020
Project start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Country eligibility
UK and EU
Funding
Funded
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Supervisors
Professor Diane Holt
Schools
Management
Research groups/institutes
Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Working with Professor Diane Holt of the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies (CEES), this PhD will focus on the strategic evolution of hybrid social enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa. The strategic and operational development of these kinds of organisations often remains opaque, often because they are situated within &lsquo;adverse&rsquo; environments that are hard to access for research, whilst publicly available data is also often limited. What is even more difficult to identify is when and why such organisations do not survive, or when the services or goods they deliver for beneficiary groups in poverty contexts are not utilised, are unsuccessful or even have negative impacts. Again, such data remains &lsquo;hidden&rsquo; beyond the capture of most research teams. However, CEES has unique access to this hidden data through Professor Diane Holt&rsquo;s exiting links in the region and prior work. Fieldwork will likely be based in Kenya, South Africa and the UK).

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<h2>Conceptual background to the research</h2> <p>Across the developing world, businesses are increasingly being called upon to a play a role in addressing sustainable development and poverty alleviation issues. There is growing recognition that hybrid social enterprises are important actors in enhancing wellbeing and resilience at individual, household or community levels, and that they offer opportunities for inclusive growth in marginalised, low income, communities around the world. Such enterprises, which may operate under varied designations including fair-trade, social enterprise, community-based organisation, non-profits etc., share three common characteristics:</p> <ul> <li>They utilise some element of trading or enterprise-based activity in their income generation model;</li> <li>They place the achievement of their social and/or environmental mission at the heart of their business model and strategies;&nbsp;</li> <li>Whilst they may take some profit, they &lsquo;sacrifice&rsquo; profit maximisation and reinvest some if not all of their surpluses in achieving their core social and/or environmental mission.</li> </ul> <p>The importance of hybrid social enterprises for socioeconomic development and poverty alleviation has now been recognised in a multitude of national development plans in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, in South Africa, the government&rsquo;s 2010 Decent Work Country Programme, and the New Growth Path Framework (2011) both identify growth in the social economy&mdash;comprising a myriad of organisation types including co-operatives, NGOs, social businesses and stokvels (informal savings schemes)&mdash;as a significant source of new jobs. Such enterprises (Doherty et al., 2014) target unmet social needs and bridge institutional voids (e.g. Mair et al., 2012). Social innovation and hybrid/social enterprises alongside specific social protection initiatives are viewed as key mechanisms for addressing challenges such as poverty and promoting inclusive, sustainable growth for all (see Mangaliso, 2001; Littlewood &amp; Holt, 2015a).&nbsp;</p> <p>However, whilst there are now numerous examples of research examining individual social entrepreneurs and their ventures, including increasingly in developing country contexts, there is little empirical, cross-case, longitudinal research that considers the success or failure of social enterprises over time, and how they change and grow. To understand how hybrid social enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa navigate the complex environments in which they are embedded, four further bodies of literature and associated concepts and theory will be drawn upon in this research. These include the formal/informal economy nexus, cross-sector partnerships and&nbsp;alliances, institutional differences, and the role of finance.</p> <h2>Research questions&nbsp;and method</h2> <p>This study will address the following research questions:</p> <p>RQ1: What factors determine the success or failure of hybrid social enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa?</p> <p>RQ2: How and why do the strategies, business models, resource profiles and operations of hybrid social enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa change over time?</p> <p>The strategic and operational development of these kinds of organisations often remains opaque, often because they are situated within &lsquo;adverse&rsquo; environments that are hard to access for research, whilst publicly available data is also often limited. What is even more difficult to identify is when and why such organisations do not survive, or when the services or goods they deliver for beneficiary groups in poverty contexts are not utilised, are unsuccessful or even have negative impacts. Again, such data remains &lsquo;hidden&rsquo; beyond the capture of most research teams. However, CEES has unique access to this hidden data through Professor Diane Holt. This study will utilise the <a href="http://www.trickleout.net">Trickle Out Africa database</a>&nbsp;that Holt developed which has data on more than 2000 hybrids in 19 SSA countries. It also has 20 detailed case studies.</p> <p>Therefore the proposed methodology is (i) desk based examination of the failure/existence/development of the 2000 listed by Holt (ii) a survey of a selection (iii) 4-6 detailed case studies (all accessed through existing links and based in Kenya, S.Africa and UK headquarters).</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>In order to apply for this project, you should first <a href="https://studentservices.leeds.ac.uk/pls/banprod/bwskalog_uol.P_DispLoginNon">apply for a place on the PhD programme</a> at Leeds University Business School. In&nbsp;the research information section, please state that the project you wish to be considered for is &lsquo;The longitudinal evolution of social enterprises&rsquo; and write&nbsp;Professor Diane Holt as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the Leeds University Business School&nbsp;minimum English language requirements (below)&nbsp;before registration. You do not need to have met the requirement at the time you apply.</p> <p><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

To be eligible for the PhD programme, you should hold a British Masters degree (or equivalent degree from an overseas university) or an equivalent professional qualification, with a minimum average score of 60 percent (or equivalent) and in an appropriate academic discipline.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

IELTS of 7.0 overall, with at least 6.0 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>The funding for this project&nbsp;covers&nbsp;a maintenance stipend and UK/EU tuition fees for three years, subject to satisfactory progress.</p> <p>Maintenance stipends are paid at the UK Research Council rate (&pound;15,009 in 2019/20, the rate is reviewed annually).</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information, please contact the Graduate School Office or visit our <a href="https://business.leeds.ac.uk/research-degrees">website</a>.</p> <p>phd@lubs.leeds.ac.uk</p> <p>0113 343 4596</p>


<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>