Why Social Enterprises Resist or Collectively Improve Impact Assessment: The Role of Prior Organizational Experience and “Impact Lock-In”

SAGE Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Business & Society, pp. 000765032211205-000765032211205
Full metadata record
This article examines how organizational experience influences social enterprise responses to impact assessment practices. Limited attention has been paid to why organizations resist or challenge impact assessment practices or how prior experience with impact assessment may shape organizational responses. The study draws on interviews with practitioners involved in social enterprise–impact investor dyads in Australia and the United Kingdom. The findings reveal that social enterprises enact either combative or collaborative responses in their relationships with impact investors based on past experiences with impact assessment. The study shows how more experienced social enterprises reach a state of impact lock-in—where they become committed to particular approaches to understanding, measuring, and reporting impact. The article contributes to the literature on impact assessment and impact investment by showing how organizational experience shapes divergent reactions to the demands imposed by impact investors, creating complementary forces of institutionalization and contestation of impact assessment practice.
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