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Social enterprises can be found across Vietnam. However, little is known about how these organizations contribute to the country’s broader efforts to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This paper aims to explore whether and to what extent differences in social impacts by social enterprises may be explained by the psychological characteristics of social entrepreneurs and cross-sector “ecosystem” partnerships in training, networking, consultation and funding.Design/methodology/approachA survey of N ≈ 352 Vietnamese social entrepreneurs explored relationships between individual entrepreneurial orientation (EO), social identity, self-construal and personality, with elements of ecosystem partnerships (access to training, networking, consultation and funding) and social impacts over the previous three years (growth/jobs created and people helped, termed efficiency and generosity, respectively).FindingsEcosystem partnerships factored into frequency and quality of partnerships. Frequency predicted social enterprise efficiency (p < 0.05) and quality predicted generosity (p < 0.01). Frequency of partnerships further moderated (boosted) significant links between EO (risk innovation, p < 0.05) and efficiency; and between social identity (communitarianism, p < 0.01) to efficiency; plus, quality of partnerships moderated a link between EO (risk innovation) and efficiency (p < 0.05).Practical implicationsEcosystem partnerships may foster social enterprise development through at least two pathways (equifinality), i.e. frequency and quality. The former is linked to efficiency and the latter to generosity, signaling interrelates but distinguishable outcomes. Direct links between EO and communitarian social identity leading to social enterprise development were additionally boosted (p < 0.05) by the frequency and quality of partnerships. Thus, ecosystem partnerships brought about both direct and indirect benefits to social enterprises in Vietnam.Social implicationsSocial impacts of efficiency and generosity support both decent work (SDG-8) and poverty eradication (SDG-1), through ecosystem partnerships in development (SDG-17).Originality/valueTo the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first empirical study to show that social enterprises in Vietnam may enhance social impacts through a combination of effects from social entrepreneurs and ecosystem partnerships. Current models of social enterprises in low-income countries like Vietnam can be expanded to include ecosystem partnerships and social outcomes relating to SDGs 1 and 8, and especially the multiple path benefits that ecosystem partnerships (under SDG-17) bring to social enterprise development.
Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 7, 2021
Keywords: Social enterprise; Social impact; Partnership; Ecosystem; SDGs; Social entrepreneur
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