Exploring Leadership In Social Enterprises: A Grounded Theory Study

Pernille Elleboe

Student thesis: Master thesis


I draw upon relational leadership perspectives to address practices of leadership in social enterprises targeted at persons with disability. These organizations work towards a dual mission, both to create job security for people with psychical and/or mental disability, and then achieving this by doing business in a competitive marketplace, through earned income strategies. In this grounded theory, I find that the social enterprises are working with an organisational structure embedded in processes of leadership of their dual missions, through practices such as aligning their strategies, and working with high degrees of social interactions, flexibility, and democracy and inclusion. However, the social enterprises are also dependent on partners from both private and public business spheres to achieve their dual missions. Compelled by this dependence, the social enterprises undertake leadership across organisational borders, that act as sponsorship of their social goals, through practices of getting politically engaged and acting as role models. Through these processes, I argue that the social enterprises function as adaptive spaces for social emergence, where the leadership that occurs from their work with their beneficiaries, is bridged with the rigid and bureaucratic systems of the for-profit businesses and governmental institutions.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages108
SupervisorsKai Hockerts & Eric Guthey