Configurational approaches to the study of social ventures

G. Tyge Payne, Miles A. Zachary, Matt LaFont

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose - This chapter acknowledges the difficulties in the empirical study of social ventures-broadly defined as market-driven ventures that produce social change-that arise from the vast differences among social venture firms in terms of missions, goals, identities, strategies, and structures. In an effort to improve research in this area and advance the field of social entrepreneurship, the authors advocate approaching social ventures from a configurational perspective. Design/methodology-This chapter begins with a discussion of what social ventures are and why organizational configurations-sets of firms that are similar across key characteristics-may be an appropriate perspective to utilize. Then, two methods-cluster analysis and set-theoretic analysis-are discussed in detail as ways to approach the study of social venture configurations. Details include descriptions of the techniques, instructions for use, examples, and limitations for each. Implications-This chapter identifies research opportunities using configurations approaches in social venture research. Substantial possibilities for multilevel and temporally based research are discussed in depth. Originality/value-A configurational approach can address the incongruence and non-findings in current social venture research and offers new opportunities for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Entrepreneurship and Research Methods
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)9781784411428
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameResearch Methodology in Strategy and Management
ISSN (Print)1479-8387


  • Clustering
  • Configurations
  • Fuzzy sets
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Social ventures


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