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Profit with Purpose? A Theory of Social Enterprise

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  • Timothy Besley
  • Maitreesh Ghatak

Abstract

When social benefits cannot be measured, an organization that selects managers based on pro-social motivation can be used to balance profits with a social purpose. This paper develops a model of social enterprise based on selection of citizen-managers to run firms with flexible missions. We analyze organizational choice between social enterprise, for-profits, and nonprofits. The paper also develops the implications of matching between founders and managers based on their preferences for the mission.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2017. "Profit with Purpose? A Theory of Social Enterprise," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 19-58, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:19-58
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20150495
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 616-636, June.
    2. Fehrler, Sebastian & Kosfeld, Michael, 2014. "Pro-social missions and worker motivation: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 99-110.
    3. Smart, Michael & Sturm, Daniel M., 2013. "Term limits and electoral accountability," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 93-102.
    4. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
    5. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2001. "Government Versus Private Ownership of Public Goods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1343-1372.
    6. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
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    8. Matthew J. Kotchen, 2006. "Green Markets and Private Provision of Public Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 816-845, August.
    9. Francois, Patrick, 2000. "'Public service motivation' as an argument for government provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 275-299, November.
    10. Robert J. Shiller, 2012. "Finance and the Good Society," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9652, December.
    11. Eric Van den Steen, 2010. "Culture Clash: The Costs and Benefits of Homogeneity," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(10), pages 1718-1738, October.
    12. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
    13. Ernesto Dal Bó & Frederico Finan & Martín A. Rossi, 2013. "Strengthening State Capabilities: The Role of Financial Incentives in the Call to Public Service," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(3), pages 1169-1218.
    14. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2010. "Individual and Corporate Social Responsibility," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 1-19, January.
    15. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
    16. Besley, Timothy & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2007. "Retailing public goods: The economics of corporate social responsibility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(9), pages 1645-1663, September.
    17. Roth, Alvin E & Sotomayor, Marilda, 1989. "The College Admissions Problem Revisited," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 559-570, May.
    18. Jean Tirole, 2006. "The Theory of Corporate Finance," Post-Print hal-00173191, HAL.
    19. Timothy Besley, 2013. "What's the Good of the Market? An Essay on Michael Sandel's What Money Can't Buy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 478-495, June.
    20. Mark Bagnoli & Susan G. Watts, 2003. "Selling to Socially Responsible Consumers: Competition and The Private Provision of Public Goods," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(3), pages 419-445, September.
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    22. Matthew Lee & Julie Battilana, 2013. "How the Zebra Got Its Stripes: Imprinting of Individuals and Hybrid Social Ventures," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-005, Harvard Business School.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Non, Arjan & Rohde, Ingrid & de Grip, Andries & Dohmen, Thomas, 2019. "Mission of the company, prosocial attitudes and job preferences: A discrete choice experiment," ROA Research Memorandum 006, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    2. repec:eee:reecon:v:71:y:2017:i:2:p:356-371 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Besley, Timothy & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2017. "Public–private partnerships for the provision of public goods: Theory and an application to NGOs," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 356-371.
    4. Dur, Robert & van Lent, Max, 2018. "Serving the public interest in several ways: Theory and empirics," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 13-24.
    5. repec:kea:keappr:ker-20190701-35-2-03 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Arturo García & Mariel Leal & Sang-Ho Lee, 2019. "Endogenous Timing with a Socially Responsible Firm," Korean Economic Review, Korean Economic Association, vol. 35, pages 345-370.
    7. repec:bla:annpce:v:89:y:2018:i:1:p:175-199 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Guillermo Alves & Pablo Blanchard & Gabriel Burdin & Mariana Chávez & Andrés Dean, 2019. "The Economic Preferences of Cooperative Managers," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 19-08, Instituto de Economia - IECON.
    9. Tobias Wolf & Maria Metzing & Richard E. Lucas, 2019. "Experienced Well-Being and Labor Market Status: The Role of Pleasure and Meaning," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1043, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship

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