Towards an Appreciation of Ethics in Social Enterprise Business Models

Journal of Business Ethics 159 (3):619-634 (2019)
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Abstract

How can a critical analysis of entrepreneurial intention inform an appreciation of ethics in social enterprise business models? In answering this question, we consider the ethical commitments that inform entrepreneurial action and the hybrid organisations that emerge out of these commitments and actions. Ethical theory can be a useful way to reorient the field of social enterprise so that it is more critical of bureaucratic and market-driven enterprises connected to neoliberal doctrine. Social enterprise hybrid business models are therefore reframed as outcomes of both ethical and entrepreneurial intentions. We challenge the dominant conceptualisation of social enterprise as a hybrid blend of mission and market by reframing hybridity in terms of the moral choice of economic system and social value orientation. We deconstruct the political foundations of charitable trading activities, co-operative and mutual enterprises and socially responsible businesses by examining the rationalities and ethical commitments that underpin them. Whilst conceptual modelling of social enterprise is not new, this paper contributes to knowledge by developing a theory of social enterprise ethics based on the moral/political choices that are made by entrepreneurs when choosing between systems of economic exchange and social value orientation, then expressing it through a legal form.

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References found in this work

The Theory of Moral Sentiments.Adam Smith - 1759 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya.
Economy and Society.Max Weber - 2013 - Harvard University Press.

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