Nonprofit organizations (NPO) have suffered from two interrelated bottlenecks: lack of funds and difficulties to grow and operate at scale. Business model innovation (BMI) has been found to be important to overcome those bottlenecks, but the extant literature is limited and lacks a solid empirical foundation. To explore this topic, we conducted a retrospective analysis of a single case study, tracking the evolution of an organization’s business model as it went from being a traditional, donation-based NPO, to a dynamic sales-driven social enterprise (SE). As a result, the organization gained financial autonomy, scaled up operations and increased impact. Our findings add to the literature by identifying BMI change drivers and outcomes. We show how a platform-inspired business model can enhance value creation and value capture in a SE.
Reficco, E., Layrisse, F., & Barrios, A. (2020). From donation-based NPO to social enterprise: A journey of transformation through business-model innovation. Journal of Business Research
Andrés Barrios Fajardo
Associate Professor at Faculty of Management
Universidad de Los Andes
The interview transcript
Hello Andrés, thank you very much for accepting this invitation to a coffee break, how are you doing?
Thank you very much Lorena for inviting me, I’m doing really good, thank you.
I’m having today a delicious Colombian black coffee I imagine you’re also having a Colombian coffee.
That’s it I’m having a black Colombian coffee, this is the best one.
I agree, Andrés, I was just reading one of your papers about how entrepreneurship as boundary object can help reintegration in Colombia, could you please tell me what the paper was about?
This paper is about how entrepreneurship can help actually ex combatants to move from the war, in this case from a context of war to a context of peace, so this paper brings a theory, which is boundary objects, which is from sociology and we brought it to an entrepreneurship field to understand how this action of moving from one context to another takes.
That’s indeed very interesting and I see that one of the key notions of your paper is a boundary object, could you please tell me the definition of it?
Boundary object is an artifact we have, which has a plasticity we can call it that way and can be used in one context and the same time in another one, but in this case that object can help because it’s the same in the it’s the same in both contexts can help you to translate from one to another, it’s really useful when you are analyzing changes, when a person faces personal changes from for example work, if you change from work from one field to another one, but in this case we use it in an extreme context, which is people who have been in war for several years and now they have to live in a context of peace and how they managed to do business if in war and in peace under a different context, so what we found is that with ex-combatants they had some entrepreneurial actions but based on threatening and you know in a difficult concept because there was a lack of trust and now when you go to the peace context you have to develop a business in a context first of trust, because you have to trust your stakeholders and there is no threat involved you know people have the option to select your product or invest in your business or not which is different but the entrepreneurial practices were quite similar actually and that’s what we found.
That’s indeed fascinating and I imagine challenging, could you please tell me which ones were your main findings?
Yes what we found is that you know your in this case ex-combatants had an identity identification with the you know guerrilla group in this case and they formed their identity and their practices around that you know at the time they were kind of proud of their group because they thought they were doing a good thing actually, but when the peace agreement was signed and they have to move from the violent or conflict context to the peace one they had to transform their practices they have to change their identity and in this case the person that we interviewed were trying to develop a business so we saw how according to boundary object theory there is a there is some subfield called the boundary object work which means that it’s an identity work when people start to transform them themselves, which is I don’t belong to the previous group now I belong to this new context and after that you start to coordinate your skills try to adapt elements that you learned before to the ones that you have right now contrast them and try to develop a new identification with the new field which is kind of the end of the process which is transformation because actually they transform the identity and before they they relate to be in a gorilla group and to be a tough guy now they’re trying to see themselves as a businessman and and to develop this kind of practices which according to the identity they are forming
How inspiring that and I assume there are a lot of personal motivations driving you to do this research could you please share some with us?
Yes you know this came about you know this this is in academia this issue about relevance you know we try to be relevant to our context and there is this call about academics be more relevant to society so I’m a Colombian Professor and when the peace agreement was forming in in the country well everyone wants to help and what else you can do about helping from your field so in this case I’m a professor and I’m analyzing entrepreneurship and businesses for several years so I decided to uh work from my field to peace in this case and there was a call about you know how we are going as a society to bring this ex combatants or ex-militants they were eight thousand you know how to we are going to reintegrate them into society and you know according to the un one of the elements of reintegration is you know this process which is demolition disarmament demodulation and reintegration the social reintegration is actually the most difficult part and so we decided to work in the economical integration and by doing that because we were in a business school we decided okay there is no way to do that working or doing entrepreneurship so we decided to focus on the entrepreneurship elements and that’s where my motivation came about.
That’s really nice to know, thank you for sharing and finally I’m interested about on the policy implications of your paper?
Yes okay so first one of the police implications of this paper is about how to make economic reintegration useful easy to make and and successful in this case so we believe it’s going to be successful because that’s kind of the first one because we’re what we are saying is you know try to promote entrepreneurship among this population and even though sometimes their business doesn’t work quite well there is a social and a learning process that takes place and it’s really important because as some of them actually fail in their business endeavours, you know but it doesn’t matter because now they have learned and they wanted to do it again you know they want to try again into the peace context they don’t want to go back to the violent one and that’s really important because in addition to the economic even they have it or not there was a social learning about how to work in a society so that that is one the other one is you know if you use this social um sorry boundary object theory you can see the steps about it and in the process of transforming your identity so you can actually sometimes identify clearly where in which steps is each one and you can develop some new strategies to promote that the person can progress in this process of transformation you can map out where is each one in the process which is really good because you can you know send some um actions you know to make the people continue instead of of going back you know actually there is uh you know according to the peace index there is around 40 conflicts right now running and this can help to people move from this via context of violence to a context of peace.
How interesting really was a real pleasure for me to have you here in a coffee break, I wish you all the best in your future research and I hope you see again soon thank you very much bye-byeTags: Business model innovation, Platforms, social entrepreneurship, Value creation