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Social enterprises in electronic markets: web localization or standardization

Abstract

The question of how social enterprises (SEs)—organizations that work to solve social issues through innovative ideas and strategies—utilize the web to internationalize has received little attention in electronic business literature. We address this issue by examining whether SEs pursue a web globalization strategy that is standardized across national markets or localized and culturally customized to individual locales. Accepted knowledge about e-commerce corporations predicts that these firms would be better off with web localization. However, an investigation using content analysis and two case studies complemented with face-to-face and digital interviews reveals that SEs differ inherently from for-profit businesses in web globalization. Specifically, this paper shows that SEs adopt a web strategy high on standardization to mobilize, educate, advocate, and recruit would-be donors, influencers, and volunteers. Such a strategy allows SEs to build legitimacy and reinforce their global brand. Our empirical findings show the uniqueness of SEs’ digital context from profit-oriented e-commerce corporations and the need for a suitable theoretical framework.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    https://www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/countries/bangladesh/

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Oxfam and Habitat for Humanity managers who provided valuable information for this project.

We would like to thank the editor and reviewers for their insightful comments, as these comments led to a significant improvement of the paper.

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Correspondence to Mamoun Benmamoun.

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Benmamoun, M., Alhor, H., Ascencio, C. et al. Social enterprises in electronic markets: web localization or standardization. Electron Markets 31, 215–231 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12525-020-00430-7

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Keywords

  • Social enterprises
  • E-commerce
  • Internationalization
  • Web globalization
  • Localization
  • Standardization

JEL classification

  • L81
  • L31