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Pornsiri Sairojpand

DBA Graduate - 2019

Thesis title

Collaborative social enterprise networks in Hong Kong

Supervisor(s)

Andrew Parker

Elsie has extensive experience as both a corporate executive and a management consultant. She specializes in innovation management, innovation capability building, and organization transformation and has worked closely with leaders from Fortune 500 companies across Europe and Asia. She now runs an incubation project for social entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, as well as teaches at the business school of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Purpose Social entrepreneurship is believed to address and attempt to solve social problems through innovative means. It is therefore meaningful to understand more about the factors contributing to the success of social entrepreneurs and the enterprises they have founded. One key issue regarding a social enterprise’s development is the collaboration between it and its commercial counterparts and the potential benefits this alliance might bring. However, little research in the field of social enterprises, in general, or on collaborative networks, specifically in Hong Kong, has been done. Methodology and Approach In this thesis, the collaborative networks between social enterprises and the commercial sector in Hong Kong are explored with the aim to identify the nature of these networks and under what circumstances they facilitate idea adoption by four types of social enterprises. A multiple case study approach was adopted to study the collaborative networks of different types of social enterprises with varying degrees of business knowledge and social welfare backgrounds. Through the lens of the network-based theory of social capital and absorptive capacity, this exploratory study aims to gain deeper insights and understanding on this topic that has little existing research in order to contribute to the growing field of social entrepreneurship in Asia.Findings The research findings suggest that the networks of different types of social enterprises reflect that of their sponsoring organizations or founders. In terms of new idea adoption, the result of collaboration depends on the absorptive capacity of the social enterprises, and, in turn, this is affected by the cognitive aspect of the social capital of the personnel involved. Research Implication First, this research contributes to the network-based theory of social capital by investigating the role played by the cognitive dimension of social capital with regard to absorptive capacity. Second, the findings help the management personnel of social enterprises facilitate collaboration by bridging the potential gaps that might hinder the absorption of new ideas. Third, the findings could potentially help the Hong Kong government promote the growth of the social enterprise sector through orchestrating more effective collaborative initiatives that create greater impact. This study is limited to Hong Kong, but this research could possibly inspire other scholars to examine social entrepreneurship in other geographical contexts. Key words Social entrepreneurship, social enterprises, network theory of social capital, absorptive capacity