The Role of Social Entrepreneurs in the Process of Institutional Change: An Exploratory Study in Ghana

Caterina Zadra & Elena Pesce

Student thesis: Master thesis


Despite the potential of social entrepreneurship to tackle societal and environmental issues through a systemic approach, the implementation of institutional change in developing countries by social entrepreneurs has received little attention from scholars. In order to fill this void in the literature, the present research explores how social entrepreneurs in Ghana proceed to make institutional change. To answer the research question, this thesis follows a critical realist approach and is based on qualitative data collected through eleven semi-structured interviews with social enterprises and two field experts during a field trip in Accra, in March 2019. Based on Battilana, Leca and Boxenbaum’s (2009) framework on the process of implementation of institutional change, the findings suggest that Ghana presents a fertile ground for opportunities to change the current institutional arrangements. The field ‘societal challenges’ also creates opportunities for action, due to the contradictions and uncertainty of the current institutional arrangements. The empirical data have shown that the implementation of institutional change requires a clear vision of divergent change and the mobilization of allies. Our findings prove that social entrepreneurs cannot spread the divergent change alone. The findings suggest that the resulting institutional change is carried out mainly at the normative and cognitive level, rather than at the regulative level. Finally, the insights of this thesis are translated into practical implications for social ventures aiming at implementing divergent change in Ghana, policy makers and supporting institutions.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Business and Development Studies, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages136
SupervisorsThilde Langevang