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Measuring to Improve Versus Measuring to Prove: Understanding the Adoption of Social Performance Measurement Practices in Nascent Social Enterprises

  • Saurabh Lall
Original Paper

Abstract

Social enterprises are described as organizations with dual objectives—social and commercial. While the measurement of commercial performance is relatively straightforward and well understood, our understanding of the factors related to measuring social performance is more ambiguous. Is the adoption of social performance measurement (SPM) practices more related to external pressures, such as the need to demonstrate legitimacy to funders and peers, or is it more closely related to the growing rationalization within the social sector? We examine the relationship between external and internal factors and the adoption of SPM using a novel dataset of 1864 nascent social enterprises from around the world. Our findings suggest support for the argument that the adoption of SPM in social enterprise is related to the growing rationalization of the social sector, which challenges some of the past research on this topic, and provides a more nuanced perspective of SPM in social enterprise.

Keywords

Social enterprise Social performance measurement Rationalization Legitimacy Impact measurement 

Résumé

Les entreprises sociales sont décrites comme des organisations possédant des objectifs à double nature, soit sociale et commerciale. Même si le rendement commercial est relativement facile à mesurer et à comprendre, les facteurs relatifs à la mesure du rendement social nous semblent plus ambigus. L’adoption de pratiques de mesure du rendement social (MRS) est-elle davantage reliée à des pressions externes, dont le besoin de faire preuve de légitimité devant les bailleurs de fonds et les pairs, ou est-elle associée de plus près à la rationalisation ayant progressivement lieu au sein du secteur social? Nous étudions la relation entre des facteurs internes et externes et l’adoption de MRS à l’aide d’un ensemble de données novatrices provenant de 1,864 jeunes entreprises sociales de partout dans le monde. Nos résultats semblent soutenir l’argument voulant que l’adoption de MRS dans les entreprises sociales soit associée à la rationalisation croissante du secteur social, contestant ainsi des recherches précédentes sur le sujet et procurant un point de vue plus nuancé sur les MRS dans le contexte desdites entreprises.

Zusammenfassung

Sozialunternehmen gelten als Organisationen mit zweifachem Ziel - dem sozialen und dem kommerziellen Ziel. Während die Messung der kommerziellen Leistung relativ geradlienig ist und wohlverstanden wird, ist das Verständnis der Faktoren im Zusammenhang mit der Messung der sozialen Leistung nicht ganz eindeutig. Erfolgt die Anwendung von Praktiken zur Messung der sozialen Leistung aufgrund externen Drucks, wie beispielsweise die nötige Demonstration von Legitimität gegenüber Geldgebern und anderen Sozialunternehmen, oder steht sie mehr im Zusammenhang mit der zunehmenden Rationalisierung innerhalb des Sozialsektors? Wir untersuchen die Beziehung zwischen den externen und internen Faktoren und die Messung der sozialen Leistung anhand neuer Daten von 1864 aufkeimenden Sozialunternehmen aus der ganzen Welt. Die Ergebnisse scheinen das Argument zu unterstützen, dass die Messung der sozialen Leistung in Sozialunternehmen in Verbindung mit der wachsenen Rationalisierung des Sozialsektors erfolgt. Dies stellt einige vorherige Untersuchungen zu diesem Thema in Frage und bietet eine differenziertere Perspektive zur Messung der sozialen Leistung in Sozialunternehmen.

Resumen

Las empresas sociales son descritas como organizaciones con objetivos duales: sociales y comerciales. Aunque la medición del rendimiento comercial es relativamente directa y bien entendida, nuestra comprensión de los factores relacionados con la medición del rendimiento social es más ambigua. ¿Está la adopción de prácticas de medición del rendimiento social (SPM, por sus siglas en inglés) más relacionada con presiones externas, tales como la necesidad de demostrar legitimidad a financiadores e iguales, o está más estrechamente relacionada con la creciente racionalización dentro del sector social? Examinamos la relación entre factores externos e internos y la adopción de la SPM utilizando un conjunto de datos novedosos de 1.864 empresas sociales emergentes de todo el mundo. Nuestros hallazgos sugieren apoyar el argumento de que la adopción de la SPM en la empresa social está relacionada con la creciente racionalización del sector social, que cuestiona algunas de las investigaciones pasadas sobre este tema, y proporciona una perspectiva más matizada de la SPM en la empresa social.

Chinese

社会企业被描述为具有双重目标(社会和商业)的组织 。虽然商业绩效的衡量相对简单明了,但我们对衡量社会绩效因素的理解更为模糊。采用社会绩效衡量(SPM)做法是否与外部压力更为相关(例如需要向资助者和同行证明合法性),还是与社会部门内部不断增长的合理化更密切相关?我们利用来自世界各地的1864家新兴社会企业的新颖数据集,研究了外部因素与内部因素之间的关系以及SPM的采用。我们的研究结果表明,支持“社会企业中采用SPM与社会部门不断增长的合理化有关”的观点,这对过去一些关于该话题的研究提出了挑战,并为社会企业提供了一个更细致入微的SPM观点。

Japanese

社会的企業は、社会的かつ商業的な二つの目的の組織として示されている。商業パフォーマンスの測定は、比較的簡単であり理解しやすいが、社会的業績の測定に関連する要因の理解はよりあいまいになっている。社会的パフォーマンスの測定(SPM)の採用は、出資者や同僚の正当性を示す必要性、もしくは社会のセクター内での成長の合理化はもっと密接に関連しているかなどの外部からの圧力に関連しているのだろうか。外部と内部の要因と世界の1864 の新生社会企業の新規データセットを用いた SPM の採用との関係を調べた。調査結果は、ソーシャル ・ エンタープライズの SPM の採用は、社会的なセクターの成長の合理化に関連していて、本課題に関する過去の研究の課題に対処しており、ソーシャル・エンタープライズのSPMに微妙な視点を提供する。

Arabic

توصف المؤسسات الاجتماعية بأنها منظمات ذات أهداف مزدوجة - إجتماعية وتجارية. في حين أن قياس الأداء التجاري واضح نسبيا” ومفهوم جيدا”، فإن فهمنا للعوامل المتعلقة بقياس الأداء الإجتماعي أكثر غموضا”. هل إتخاذ ممارسات قياس الأداء الإجتماعي(SPM) أكثر إرتباطا” بالضغوط الخارجية، مثل ضرورة إثبات الشرعية للممولين والنظراء، أم أنه يرتبط إرتباط وثيق بالترشيد المتنامي في القطاع االجتماعي؟ نحن ندرس العلاقة بين العوامل الخارجية والداخلية وإعتماد قياس الأداء الإجتماعي(SPM) بإستخدام مجموعة بيانات جديدة من 1864 المؤسسات الإجتماعية الوليدة من جميع أنحاء العالم. توحي نتائجنا بالدعم للحجة القائلة بأن إعتماد آلية التدابير الخاصة لقياس الأداء الإجتماعي(SPM) في المشاريع الإجتماعية يرتبط بترشيد القطاع الإجتماعي الذي يتحدى بعض البحوث السابقة بشأن هذا الموضوع، يوفر منظور أكثر دقة لقياس الأداء الإجتماعي(SPM) في المشاريع الإجتماعية.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author wishes to thank Peter Roberts (Emory University), Kathryn Newcomer (George Washington University), Jasmine Johnson (George Washington University), and Jim Koch (Santa Clara University) for their invaluable comments and feedback. Additionally, the author is grateful to the editors of this journal and the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments, and to the consortium of organizations that lead the “Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI)” (www.galidata.org) for making the data available for academic research. GALI was launched by the Entrepreneurship Database Program at Emory and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, with support from the US Global Development Lab at the US Agency for International Development, Omidyar Network, The Lemelson Foundation, the Argidius Foundation, the Kauffman Foundation, and Stichting DOEN.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Planning, Public Policy and Management, 147D Hendricks Hall1209 University of OregonEugeneUSA

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