Beyond managerial rationality: exploring social enterprise in Germany

Beyond managerial rationality: exploring social enterprise in Germany
Document type
Mauksch, Stefanie
Date of publication
1 May 2012
Social enterprise journal. Vol 8; Number 2
Small business & enterprise: the practicalities of running a small business and the theory of entrepreneurship, Management & leadership: including strategy, public sector management, operations and production
Business and management
Material type

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This paper aims to contribute a qualitative analysis of practitioners’ accounts to illuminate alternative approaches to social enterprise that tend to be neglected by predominant academic representations. By analysing qualitative interviews, the paper examines the ways social entrepreneurs in Germany coproduce and reproduce the prevailing theoretical notions of social enterprise. The main themes of the interviews are elaborated upon to accentuate certain critical aspects that until now have not been the focus of attention in research. Alternative perspectives of the empirical data are developed which indicate patterns that are currently excluded from narrative practices of academia. There are several insightful perspectives represented in the interview data: the (conspicuous) absence of managerialism as a dominant motivational feature; the complexity of the local political and social realm in which social entrepreneurs think and act in spontaneous, often “non-rational” ways; and personal and biographical accounts of social entrepreneurs as an important self-defining feature. The findings demonstrate the explanatory power of qualitative empirical accounts as a starting point to veer away from reductionist drawing-board concepts of social enterprise. These articulations of social entrepreneurs’ own realities are important as they are sometimes at odds ideologically with managerial approaches to social enterprise which emphasize cost-efficiency reasoning and financial independence.

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