Thesis

Social entrepreneurship in China

This study explores the profile of social enterprises in China, the processes of how they select and pursue earned income opportunities (EIOs), the opportunities and challenges of pursuing EIOs as well as the coping mechanisms to address these challenges. As there is limited research on Chinese social enterprises, the findings are compared with the U.S. literature to illustrate how Chinese social enterprises resemble or differ from their U.S. counterparts. The complex profile of Chinese social enterprises makes it more difficult to define and classify social enterprises in China than the United States. Chinese and U.S. social enterprises go through similar developmental processes, and encounter similar opportunities and challenges in the pursuit of EIOs. However, social enterprises in China experience context-specific benefits and difficulties as a result of the EIOs. The mechanisms they utilize to cope with these difficulties do not yield a similar theoretical model as suggested in the American literature. In order to explain why Chinese social enterprises emerge and how they evolve in the Chinese environment, a preliminary theoretical framework is developed. The interaction between Chinese social enterprises and the three isomorphic forces simultaneously shapes the isomorphic and idiosyncratic aspects of these organizations. The findings of this study have brought new insights to social entrepreneurship research and organizational studies, and will inspire future social entrepreneurship research through the lens of organizational sociology.

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