The hologram effect in entrepreneurial “social commercial” enterprises: Triggers and tipping points

Pat Ibbotson, Denise Crossan, James Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The paper's purpose is to present qualitative findings describing entrepreneurial differentiations between non-profit organisations along a social economic continuum. The paper aims to focus on those non-profit organisations classified as “social” and those more entrepreneurial behaving organisations classified as “social commercial”. Design/methodology/approach – The data were taken from recent research examining current classification systems and performance measurement indicators applied to not-for-profit and for-profit organisations in an Irish regional context. Having reviewed the extant literature on classification systems and measurement indicators for non-profit organisations, the social economic continuum model and theoretical measurement framework were developed. In order to test the models, the study employed a pragmatist mixed methodological approach; employing quantitative surveys and in-depth interviews. Findings – The paper presents key entrepreneurial differentiating themes between “social” and “social commercial” organisations, and discusses the triggers that produce a “hologram” effect or style of management in the third sector. Practical implications – The identification of entrepreneurial themes allows for the analysis of the non-profit organisations from overly social in their activities and presentation, to overly economic in their behaviour. It allows for a greater understanding of the management processes employed by non-profit organisations to create social value and meet their social aims and purpose. Originality/value – The paper carries out a unique inter-sector comparison of non-profit organisations to determine entrepreneurial differentiations amongst non-profit businesses employing entrepreneurial methodologies and behaviours to achieve social good
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-672
JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 7 Nov 2011


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