Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration

First Advisor

Nardia Haigh

Second Advisor

Maureen Scully

Third Advisor

Sandra Waddock


This dissertation extends and contributes to the extant literature on social enterprise by examining the enterprise-beneficiary relationship in social enterprises with particular focus on performance measurement and social value creation. Ironically, while social missions and commitment to beneficiaries is what distinguishes social entrepreneurship from traditional entrepreneurship, little research has been conducted to examine this relationship. Utilizing a portfolio of 101 social enterprises based in New England, this study consisted of two phases: the development of a typology of social enterprise based on the enterprise–beneficiary relationships present in the portfolio, and a comparative case study closely examining six cases of social enterprise across the typology.

By examining beneficiary positioning, level of interaction, and relationship characteristics four archetypes of social enterprise were identified: general benefit enterprises, philanthropic enterprises, social business enterprises, and relational social enterprises. Examining these models, the concept of entwinement emerged. I define entwinement as the mutual reliance and commitment between two parties, in these cases the enterprises and the individual beneficiaries they seek to serve. These models fall along a continuum of entwinement, ranging from no entwinement in the general benefit enterprises to high entwinement in the relational social enterprises. By examining two cases each of philanthropic enterprises, social business enterprises and relational enterprises I found that entwinement has positive implications for stakeholder salience and depth of impact for individual beneficiaries. I also found that while funding requirements are a key driver of the development of formalized social performance measurement programs, the level of entwinement moderates that relationship.

This dissertation contributes directly to stakeholder theory and to the social entrepreneurship literature. It offers an explanation for how managers recognize the salience of their stakeholder groups by raising entwinement as a key mechanism through which managers recognize the legitimacy and power of the beneficiary group. By utilizing the capabilities approach from the development literature, this study also presents a framework through which depth of impact can be examined across issue are and business model design. Finally, this paper identified funder requirements as a key driver of social performance measurement systems, suggesting that even as social enterprises diversify their revenue streams and business models they still bear significant semblance to non-profit organizations.