September 1, 2010 | Working Papers

Competing Institutional Logics and The Dynamics of Institutionalization: A Comparative Case Study of Nonprofit Work Integration Social Enterprises

Authors: Eve Garrow

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By virtue of their hybrid identity as both nonprofit human service organizations and commercial businesses, work integration social enterprises (WISEs) are subject to institutional pluralism, creating tensions between mission and market. These tensions are embodied in the dual role of clients, who are constituted as both service recipients and instruments of production. Drawing linkages between institutional logics and political economy perspectives, this paper develops and tests a theoretical model that seeks to explain the conditions under which clients are commodified. Comparative analysis of a theoretical sample of WISEs suggests that relative embeddedness across human service and business fields, the distribution of power across social service and production units, and the extent to which the service unit is closely coupled to the production unit combine to determine how clients are constructed and treated in the organization.

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