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The cohort of mission-driven organizations – institutions infused with social value – has grown from tens to tens of thousands. As more socially responsible organizations emerge, emphasis is increasingly placed on evaluating their impact. This study will instead shift the discussion from evaluation to organizing for prosocial good, answering the questions: how are organizations structured to create social good, and how can the odds of social impact be improved? My aim is to expand the current state of organizational scholarship surrounding social initiative implementation on an organizational level. To assist quantitative researchers in their assessment of social impact efforts, I built a qualitative typology revealing how social impact is modeled implicitly into the internal missions of organizations and their theories of how they can change the world. I then carried out two investigations to focus my research questions. First, I conducted a literature review to gain insights into the field and related disciplines. Next, I created a qualitative interview guide and conducted interviews with nineteen practitioners in the field representing a mixed sample of diverse profit structures and a variety of industries. Data analysis from these investigations yields an informed discussion on impact evaluation. Similarly, I created two broad categories – internal and external scaling – that explain how organizations are structured to create social good. Organizations using internal scaling to drive impact are likely to engage in organization-specific mission framing, asset priming, and internalization of stakeholder-centered decision making processes. Organizations using external scaling to drive impact are likely to act as movement leaders, leverage partners as impact vehicles, and allow partners to leverage their resources as well. By discussing evaluation, internal scaling, and external scaling in mission-driven organizations, I aim to reduce ambiguity on how organizations create social value and advocate for social mission management.
social change, organizational design, qualitative, typology, social impact
Date Posted: 14 January 2014