Managing Social Entrepreneurship

Metro's coming ? [Photo by jfgornet] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Just like managing a traditional business enterprise, managing social entrepreneurship can be a challenging task. This is especially true when the social enterprise in question has operations at more than one site. It is especially important for these distributed organizations to develop an efficient organizational structure that operates smoothly. Fortunately, managers can turn to a wealth of research on the ideal structure for a geographically distributed social business. Because these operations serve complex social needs, they are under constant pressure to expand to more locations and take on a wider range of activities.

Some guidelines can help managers to accommodate the demands on their organizations without losing effectiveness in their operations. One of the pressures that must be contended with as an organization expands to multiple sites is the drift towards unit autonomy, and another is the pull of organizational affiliation. Finding a balance between these two opposing forces is ultimate the goal. Effective social entrepreneurship management employes a variety of factors and practices which have allowed some organizations to excel in the field. Examining case studies of these organizations is an excellent way of identifying their successful approaches to management.

Looking at high performing organizations that meet and exceed the expectations of all their stakeholders is a good place to begin this kind of research. One of the characteristics that these organizations share is a holistic approach to management, rather than a single element like strong leadership being responsible for success. The four aspects which seem to have the greatest impact on management success are integrity of purpose, integrative drivers, implementing mechanisms and contextual forces. Social entrepreneurship management requires a unique skill set which is similar to traditional managerial skills yet fundamentally different in certain key aspects.

Stream of Consciousness [Photo by jurvetson] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Because social enterprises are dedicated to social good over profits, managers must be flexible in their approach and budget minded when it comes to using resources. There are many cases where they will have to deal with social and financial conflicts, and successfully manage both volunteer and paid employees. Good management skills are essential for any business to survive, and this is especially true of social enterprises. A participative management style seems to be especially effective in keeping workers motivated by giving them more input into their job content and results.

A team oriented approach to structuring the work place seems to be the best fit for this type of managerial style, along with a commitment to collective decision making. Another challenge of social entrepreneurship management is how to effectively utilize new media and technology platforms in communications with their stakeholders. Embracing the latest communications technologies requires training staff and investing in the necessary software and hardware tools, but the benefit can be a huge improvement in the quality and efficiency of your communications infrastructure.

Social enterprise managers can turn to some proven workforce management techniques to help them introduce new communications technologies to their organizations. One of these is forecasting and scheduling staff according to the priority of the various communications channels and accurately forecasting the workload for each type of communication channel. Using workforce automation software can help to streamline the process significantly, and this can be especially useful for larger organizations.