Seminar series in social entrepreneurship – Summary (3); Arthur GAUTIER “Nonprofit Roles in For-profit Firms: The Institutionalization Of Corporate Philanthropy In France”

Seminar series in social entrepreneurship

In the context of the Inter‐University Attraction Pole (IAP) “If not for profit, for what? And how?” gathering four Belgian universities around social enterprise and social entrepreneurship (HEC-ULg, UCL, Solvay-ULB, VUB);

In the context of the Doctoral Seminar in Social Entrepreneurship (Prof. B. Huybrechts & S. Mertens) and in collaboration with the EMES network; a Seminar series in social entrepreneurship will be organized at HEC‐ULg from February to May 2014.

Download the program of the Seminar here



The 23rd of April, the HEC Management School University of Liege, on the occasion of the 4th Social Entrepreneurship Doctoral Seminar session, had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Arthur Gautier from the ESSEC Business School.

Dr. Gautier presented his last work: “Nonprofit Roles in For-profit Firms: The Institutionalization of Corporate Philanthropy in France”, written in collaboration with Dr. Anne-Claire Pache and Dr. Imran Chowdhury.

In the first part of the presentation the author provided a concise definition of the concept of Philanthropy, and the evolution of perception in relation to the issue in France, from a negative one until the 90s, to a positive one, or at least a more well-known, now.

In the second part he disclosed the aim of the research project: to understand the role of institutional entrepreneurship across multiple levels – field, organization, and micro levels – in the institutionalization of a new professional role within organizations: the “corporate philanthropy manager”.

More precisely the two main research questions, which the paper tries to provide an answer, are:

–       Which is the process of institutionalization of corporate philanthropy manager as professional practice?

–       Which roles did different actors play at different levels during the different steps of institutional change process?

Once reconstructed the process thanks to a key events’ chronology, in three time periods- emergence phase, growth phase and normalization phase – in the last 30 s years, the authors recognized three levels of agency. The actors arranged in the three levels – field level (professional associations and their leaders); organizational level (CEOs and top management); micro-level (corporate philanthropy managers) – acted differently and had different relevance during the process of theorizing of change (first activity); mobilizing of change (second activity) and embedded change third activity). Actually, if in the first two activities field and organization level actors are the most active, creating definition and organizing practices exchange, the third activity, embedded change, is dominated by micro- level actors (corporate philanthropy managers), which using bricolagecreated professional practices.

At the end of the presentation Arthur Gautier answered to audience’s questions, in particularly about the role of this new profession in the enterprises – in particular relative to HR profile and CSR sector- visibility and future prospective. He pointed particularly attention on the importance of the actors, and their daily activities, to understand the organisations daily practices. The second point faced, was the concept of institutional change, which depend on institution of reference, so using the word need caution, risking abuse.

In the second part of this 4th session, PhD student Lama Arda departing from the concept of institutional change made a brief description of institutional theory and its declination. She presented the theoretical position of Gautier, Pache, Chowdhury, paper in the broader perspective of institutional theory and compared to Battilana (Battilana, 2009) and Pache and Santos (2012) papers. She presented a few empirical applications of the institutional logics approach to social entrepreneurship. The conversation continued about the level of analysis and the challenge to use a different prospective than the most part of institutional theory, the micro- level approach, analyzing the organizations from an individual point of view, daily working life, practices and role of actors.


Giorgia_TrascianiGiorgia Trasciani is a PhD-student at the Centre for Social Economy of HEC-ULg Management School in Liege (Belgium). Her research interests are social entrepreneurship, collective entrepreneurship, social cooperatives, and institutional theory.


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