An Entrepreneurial Identity for Social Enterprise across the Institutional Approaches: From Mission to Accountability toward Sustainable Societal Development

  •  Carla Del Gesso    


Social enterprise (SE) can involve any legal form of private organization, from nonprofit organizations to company forms within the business sector. This article aims to outline the entrepreneurial identity of SE, arguing that it has unique features that are independent from the organizational forms it can take. By performing crisp-set qualitative comparative analysis, this study compares the Italian legal model of SE to that of five other European countries, where national laws propose a broader institutional approach to SE. It is argued that SE, at the level of the organization, has its own entrepreneurial identity which is defined by a joint combination of five distinctive and interconnected elements that respectively connote its mission, activity, governance, performance and accountability. By systematizing these elements, it is possible to highlight how the social identification of the organization SE is the result of the interrelationship between its entrepreneurial intentions, processes and outcomes. This social identification can help to explain the crucial role that SE plays in promoting development and change in society.

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