Seddon, F. A., Hazenberg, R. and Denny, S. (2012) Lack of entrepreneurial management leads to failure of social enterprise governed by an institutional partnership. Paper presented to: 35th Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Conference, Dublin, 07-08 November 2012.
This paper reports an on-going research study that is investigating the application of a model of team-based philosophy to test the efficacy of an ‘institutional partnership’ between a UK university (UNI) and a regional social enterprise development agency (SEDA) as they seek to set-up and develop a work-integration social enterprise (WISE). The research design is longitudinal, conducted over a period of 18 months and has three data collection phases ‘early’, ‘middle’ and ‘late’. This paper reports the analysis of data gathered during the ‘late’ phase of this research. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 participants involved in the partnership organisations and the WISE programme delivery staff. Qualitative analysis of the interview data revealed five emergent themes, which were subsequently interpreted by the researchers as: ‘Reasons’, ‘Positives’, ‘Company structure’, ‘The Partnership’ and ‘Negatives’. The theme ‘Reasons’ revealed the participant’s perceptions of why the Partnership and the company failed to achieve their original aspirations. The theme ‘Positives’ was characterised by the notion that the funded project was an ‘experiment’, which produced a learning outcome. The ‘experiment’ was to test the viability of a funding body supporting the creation of an institutional partnership to set-up and develop a WISE. It was interesting to note an important distinction made by one of the participants who proposed that what was tested was the ability of the individuals representing the organisations rather than the organisations per se. The theme ‘Company structure’ highlighted the negative effects on the Partnership created by the volatile nature of the company structure during this ‘late’ phase. Changes in personnel, roles and responsibilities at all levels created an unstable environment and context, which impacted negatively on the Partnership and the company. The theme ‘The Partnership’ revealed the impact of a dispute between the partners that was rooted in a change of CEO at one of the partnership organisations. The theme ‘Negatives’ highlighted personal feelings of failure and responsibility for that failure. Failure was perceived as a failure of the ‘experiment’ by some participants others perceived failure in a more personal sense. The results of the analysis of the data from this ‘late’ phase, when compared to criteria from the adopted team-based model, suggests that the partnership and WISE staff failed to metamorphose into an ‘effective team’