Specialisterne, changing the standards: A case study of a Danish social entrepreneurial company

Nanna Nicoline Elkjær Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Einstein’s famous quote ‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it’, can in the framework created for this thesis be translated to how the (social) challenges of the 21’st century cannot be facilitated from a 20’th century mentality. New ways of thinking are important for companies to become stronger and better in doing business today. The purpose of this thesis is to show another side of the social entrepreneurial field; a sector where the boundaries between for-profit and not-for-profit have become blurred and the companies with a social aim are becoming more focused on the business part. This thesis presents a case that shows a social entrepreneurial company that has managed to survive and even expand in spite of the continuing financial crisis. My research question is: How is it possible for Specialisterne to be innovative, sustainable, and social entrepreneurial when employing people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder as a new resource in the workforce? This research question is investigated by four analysis questions. The thesis is based on a single case study of a social entrepreneurial company called Specialisterne, which is a pioneer within their field. This is the first company in the world to educate and hire people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder to perform IT-consultancy services. The data has been collected through interviews and observations at an international conference in May 2011, hosted by Specialisterne. The theoretical analysis primarily draw from an article written by Dacin et al. (2010), which captures the different characteristics of a social entrepreneurial company and provides very useful framework for analysing Specialisterne and their surroundings. My findings revealed that Specialisterne manage to be innovative, sustainable, and social entrepreneurial. The most important thing in their business model is that they have achieved to turn (what most people regard as) a disability into ability and create an entirely new way of doing business by taking in these specialist people and letting them be the inspired peculiarities who can create innovation just by thinking differently. Something conventional businesses could learn from in a future perspective of management.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2011
Number of pages102