Can marketing contribute to sustainable social enterprise?

Can marketing contribute to sustainable social enterprise?
Document type
Powell, Madeline; Osborne, Stephen P.
Date of publication
1 January 2015
Social enterprise journal. Vol 11; Number 1
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 explore the role of marketing as a route to sustainability for social enterprises providing public services. It examines the tensions between the economic and social objectives, both of social enterprises and of marketing. It concludes by offering a new model of the role of marketing for sustainable social enterprises. Design/methodology/approach: this paper used the case study approach which included four cases. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the chief executives of each social enterprise. The cases were classified by age. Findings: the paper demonstrates that while marketing potentially has much to offer in terms of organisational resilience for social enterprises, its application is currently undermined by its misunderstanding in practise within a “product-dominant” business logic. Despite this, the study finds a strong element of the unconscious application of marketing by social enterprises.

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