Social Entrepreneurs As Ecosystem Catalysts: The Dynamics Of Forming And Withdrawing From A Self-Sustaining Ecosystem
Creating long-lasting impact is one of the defining goals of social entrepreneurship. Yet, social entrepreneurs often face a dilemma between sustaining their organization and offering a permanent fix to a social problem. We question the assumption that organizational permanence and growth are intrinsically desirable for social entrepreneurs and propose an alternative, an inductively grounded model of ecosystem leadership, which we term ecosystem catalysis. Through a single case study of social entrepreneurs addressing diarrhea-related infant deaths in Zambia, we conceptualize ecosystem catalysis as a process through which an organization forms an ecosystem around a new value proposition while gradually making itself redundant and ultimately withdrawing without compromising the ecosystem’s functioning. Our work contributes to ecosystem literature by contrasting the key aims and mechanisms of an ecosystem catalyst to those of an orchestrator, and identifying the conditions under which catalyzing may be a better choice than orchestrating an ecosystem. We contribute to social entrepreneurship literature by decoupling social impact from organizational growth and permanence and presenting a more dynamic model of social impact resulting from distributed contributions in ecosystems.
Professor Tyrone Pitsis, School for Business and Society
Tyrone Pitsis is a Professor of Strategy and recently joined York from Durham University. His research focus is on behavioural strategy in complex projects, and he is currently studying possibility thinking in strategy formulation and execution. He was educated at the University of New South Wales (BSocSc (Psych), and the University of Technology, Sydney (PhD). He has published in a range of journals in management and in project management (Organization Science, Academy of Management Learning and Education, Organization Studies, Human Relations, Journal of Management Studies, Business History, California Management Review, and International Journal of Project Management amongst others). Tyrone is a fellow of the World Commerce and Contracting Association and has been a recipient of several awards including the Emerald Science Citation of Excellence and an award for his leadership of the Practice Theme Committee of the Academy of Management. In a previous life, Tyrone Pitsis was an executive chef.