Coopted! Mission Drift in a Social Venture Engaged in a Cross-sectoral Partnership

Ester Barinaga*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Social entrepreneurship research highlights the collaborative nature of social entrepreneurial efforts. Further, acknowledging the embeddedness of social ventures in the wider socio-economic and cultural context, the literature stresses the need to move our analysis from the micro-level of intra-organisational practices to the meso-level of inter-organisational dynamics. To answer to these calls, the article engages Fligstein’s and McAdam’s theory of strategic action fields (SAF) to investigate the dynamics of the inter-organisational collaborative work of social ventures. Empirical material comes from the efforts of a social venture to scale up to a new city through developing a cross-sectoral collaboration with the city administration. Findings indicate the risk of mission drift that weaker partners in SAFs run when collaborating with incumbent actors. In this doing, the study illustrates how a meso-level analysis can further our understanding of social entrepreneurial ventures in particular, and cross-sectoral partnerships in general.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)437-449
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: July 9, 2018


  • Collaboration
  • Cross-sectoral partnership
  • Institutional order
  • Social venture
  • Strategic action field

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