Seminar series in social entrepreneurship – Summary (4);Sophie BACQ “Can Social Entrepreneurship Researchers Learn from Family Business Scholarship? A Theory-Based Future Research Agenda”

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



On May 6th, 2014, the doctoral seminar in social entrepreneurship hosted Sophie Bacq who is affiliated with the University of Northeastern (Boston). Bacq presented her working paper, co-authored with Tom Lumpkin (Syracuse University). The working paper is entitled “Can Social Entrepreneurship Researchers Learn from Family Business Scholarship”. As introductory notes to her presentation, Bacq referred to some literature that underlined the role of theory as an educational devise to raise consciousness about specific sets of concepts, and to organize the complexity of the empirical world.

Bacq then moved to discuss the guiding motivation of their paper, which is to borrow from the literature of family business and transpose it to the Social Business Ventures (SBVs). The rationale of the paper is based on the assumption that both SBVs and family business might encounter similar challenges, and so the latter can inform the SBVs how to deal with challenges. Essentially the authors transposed certain conceptual and theoretical constructs mobilized in the family business literature and aligned them with anticipated challenges that SBVs could face.

The output of the paper as Bacq emphasized is a conceptual framework portrayed in three main horizontal levels. The first level contains the anticipated challenges of SBVs tailed by their ongoing concern, which is Social Impact. The challenges are clustered in three groups: aligning multiple stakeholders, achieving competitive advantages, and enacting sustainable solutions.

The second level consists of the theoretical lenses of the family business literature that can be employed in order to overcome these challenges. The theoretical lenses are: organizational identity theory, resource based view, and stewardship theory.

The mobilization of these theoretical lenses in relation with the anticipated challenges as Bacq highlighted can pave the way for the SE investigators to potentially stretch the SE literature into three main areas which are presented in the third level of the framework as: creating a culture of harmony, focusing on socialness as an asset, and adopting a long term orientation.

Following Bacq’s presentation the discussion has been spurred to table number of relevant issues that could be included to improve the paper. Governance mechanism was one of these aspects that could be incorporated into the discussion of the stakeholders’ interests, which can potentially harmonize the divergent interests.

Looking at the informal relations was also proposed to be included as part of the social asset that can foster the resources of the SBVs. In the same view, the “socialness” notion was raised questioning the boundaries of this new notion introduced in the paper with the social capital for example. And so the discussion proclaimed to a suggestion to organize relations and connections into two main categories as formal and informal assets.

One of the take away of this session is to attend to the existing demand of testing the theories empirically, and perhaps compiling the available theories that could inform and extend our understanding of SE.

In the second part of the seminar, Giorgia Trasciani, a PhD student HEC Management School, University of Liege, presented an AMR paper by Davis et al, 1997 on “Toward a Stewardship Theory of Management”. Trasciani presented the paper in a typology mode between stewardship theory and agency theory as corporate governance theories. The model of man is the common element between these two theories, wherein stewardship theory offered an alternative model of man behavior.

As Trasciani highlighted stewardship theory is essentially grounded on the assumption that both stewards’ and principals’ interests are aligned, and as a result the utility motivations of the stewards are organizational rather than personal objectives.

Based on the model of man Trasciani presented the typology between agency theory and stewardship theory, with a special emphasis on the psychological and situational mechanisms that stimulate the interests of the agents and stewards accordingly.

Towards the end of her presentation, Trasciani made a link between stewardship theory and the possibility to investigate the cooperative enterprise Scop (société cooperative et participative). She predicted that mobilizing stewardship theory would be particularly relevant to understand the following aspects:

  • Intrinsic motivation of the manager with a focus on the higher needs.
  • Use of power to give more weight for personal relations rather than position.
  • Collective culture to align goals, personal and collective.
  • Democratic governance as a bottleneck to mitigate conflict.


LamaALARDALama ALARDA, PHD student based at Laboratoire d’Etudes sur les Nouvelles Technologies, l’Innovation et le Changement (LENTIC)/HEC/ULG. Her broad research interest is the third sector, new institutionalism, economies of worth and justification, and sensemaking theories.


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