Strategizing in highly institutionalized environments. Social enterprises in Germany

  • The dissertation focuses on the strategizing activities of new-style social enterprises in the highly institutionalized German social service provision sector. More specifically, it focuses on understanding and highlighting the characteristics of highly institutionalized environments taking the case of Germany, and then examines how smaller new entrants strategize in these environments in order to achieve their goals. This is important because there is more limited understanding of how small new entrants operate in highly institutionalized contexts, which is likely to differ from other types of contexts. The study is built upon a qualitative research design with three in-depth case studies of social enterprises at its core, which were investigated through semi-structured interviews, organizational observation, and secondary data analysis. The inductive analytical process resulted in the following findings. Firstly, a highly institutionalized field is characterized by stability and density of institutional conditions that manifest through four characteristics: a high regulatory degree, strongly embedded established social service providers, strong and stable financial resource flows and high stability of cognitive schemes regarding social service provision. Secondly, the strategizing activities of smaller new entrants highlight the important balance between compliance to, and divergence from, institutional prescriptions and expectations that organizations experience. In order to achieve their organizational goals in this environment, social enterprises develop four strategizing areas in order to manage divergence: problem specification, interaction with established providers, mobilizing financial resources and mobilizing symbolic resources. The findings contribute to previous research in three ways. Firstly, they contribute to a better specification of highly institutionalized fields based on the perceptions of organizations operating in these environments. Secondly, the findings contribute to the understanding of simultaneous compliant and divergent organizational behavior and its connection to concrete institutions. Thirdly, the findings provide a more fine-grained understanding of the strategizing areas available to and used by new entrants in highly institutional fields in order to cope with the institutional forces that they encounter. This sheds light on the importance of differentiating between types of organizations and types of fields in order to understand the dynamics and the interplay between institutions and the capacity for action of organizations.

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Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Author(s):Alexandra Ioan
Advisor:Johanna Mair
Referee:Elke Schüssler
Hertie Collections (Serial Number):Dissertations submitted to the Hertie School of Governance (09/2017)
Publication year:2018
Publishing Institution:Hertie School
Granting Institution:Hertie School
Thesis date:2017/12/11
Number pages:289
Release Date:2018/07/10
URN of document:urn:nbn:de:kobv:b1570-opus4-25303
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften
Licence of document (German):Creative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International