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Anchors Aweigh? Then Time to Head Upstream Why we Need to Theorize “Mission” before “Drift”

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Listed:
  • Cecilia Varendh-Mansson
  • Tyler Wry
  • Ariane Szafarz

Abstract

Going beyond a narrow focus on social enterprise, Grimes, Williams, and Zhao (2019) advance a model of mission drift that they argue is relevant to understanding why—and with what consequences—all types of organizations might act in ways that are inconsistent with their identity and image. We applaud this effort, and agree that it is important to develop a theoretically rigorous approach to mission drift.Yet while the treatment that Grimes et al. (2019) develop is likely relevant to some organizations, their argument is built on a shakyfoundation, where “mission” is conceptualized in simplistic terms as an organization’s single, orienting purpose. In turn, this leads theauthors to make a number of problematic inferences about “drift” as a general phenomenon. This dialog details our concerns, and suggests thatit is vital to go upstream, and theorize mission as a nuanced and variegated construct if we are going to generate meaningful insightabout the nature, causes, and consequences of drift.

Suggested Citation

  • Cecilia Varendh-Mansson & Tyler Wry & Ariane Szafarz, 2020. "Anchors Aweigh? Then Time to Head Upstream Why we Need to Theorize “Mission” before “Drift”," Working Papers CEB PostPrintCEB024, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/307519
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dean A. Shepherd & Trenton A. Williams, 2023. "Does It Need to be Broader or Deeper? Trade-Offs in Entrepreneurship Theorizing," Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, , vol. 47(4), pages 1003-1030, July.
    2. Cozarenco, Anastasia & Szafarz, Ariane, 2020. "The regulation of prosocial lending: Are loan ceilings effective?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 121(C).
    3. Anaïs Périlleux & Ariane Szafarz, 2022. "Women in the boardroom: a bottom–up approach to the trickle-down effect," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 58(4), pages 1783-1800, April.
    4. Zineb Aouni & Marek Hudon & Anaïs A Périlleux & Tyler Wry, 2024. "Crowdfunding social ventures: who rewards (or punishes) hybridity?," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/367191, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    5. Md Aslam Mia & Hasanul Banna & Abu Hanifa Md Noman & Md Rabiul Alam & Md. Sohel Rana, 2022. "Factors affecting borrowers’ turnover in microfinance institutions: A panel evidence," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(1), pages 55-84, March.
    6. Lucas, David S. & Park, U. David, 2023. "The nature and origins of social venture mission: An exploratory study of political ideology and moral foundations," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 38(2).
    7. Simon Cornée & Marc Jegers & Ariane Szafarz & Simon Cornée & Marc Jegers & Ariane Szafarz, 2022. "Feasible Institutions of Social Finance: A Taxonomy," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 178(3), pages 280-310.
    8. Klein, Sascha & Schneider, Sabrina & Spieth, Patrick, 2021. "How to stay on the road? A business model perspective on mission drift in social purpose organizations," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 658-671.
    9. Enrico Bellazzecca & Olga Biosca, 2022. "Intended and unintended effects of specialized regulation on microfinance institutions’ double‐bottom line management," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(4), pages 977-999, December.
    10. Huimin Li & Jianyuan Huang & Jiayun Liu, 2022. "External Support for Elderly Care Social Enterprises in China: A Government-Society-Family Framework of Analysis," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(14), pages 1-22, July.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Mission Drift; Multiple Missions; Firm’s Identity; Organization Theory;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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