Organisational social capital and social innovativeness of Australian social enterprises

Weerakoon, C 2018, Organisational social capital and social innovativeness of Australian social enterprises, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Management, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Organisational social capital and social innovativeness of Australian social enterprises
Author(s) Weerakoon, C
Year 2018
Abstract Given the paucity of studies examining integrated mediatory mechanisms on the organisational social capital and social innovativeness relationship, this thesis questions “In what ways, if any, do organisational social capital, opportunity-motivation-ability factors and knowledge creation explain social innovativeness of Australian social enterprises?” Building on social capital theory, knowledge creation theory, dynamic capability view and the concept of firm-level innovativeness, a conceptual model was built to test nine hypotheses. Embracing pragmatism, this thesis addressed the overarching research question with a mixed method approach comprised of a predominant survey design and a supplementary qualitative analysis of illustrative social enterprise examples. A pre-tested and pilot tested survey questionnaire was used to collect data from 112 managerial-level employees of Australian social enterprises registered in the Social Trader’s Social Enterprise Finder Database. Hypothesised relationships were tested with nested model comparisons employing path analysis of structural equation modelling.

Results demonstrated that nearly 71% of the Australian social enterprises tested rated high on social innovativeness, indicating higher openness of organisational culture to new ideas in pursuing their social mission. The qualitative content analysis further uncovered that these innovative organisational cultures of the social enterprises reflected on market focus, communication, learning and development and participative decision-making. Path analysis revealed that structural and cognitive social capital indirectly influence the innovativeness of social enterprises through the sequential mediation of opportunities and abilities to knowledge exchange and knowledge creation. The cognitive social capital was found to have a direct effect on both knowledge creation and innovativeness. Accordingly, the relationship between structural social capital and social innovativeness provides evidence for a full mediation while a partial mediation is taken place between cognitive social capital and social innovativeness. Relational social capital has no relationship with opportunity-motivation-ability factors, knowledge creation and innovativeness. Opportunity-motivation-ability factors interrelated with each other and opportunities to knowledge exchange is the key enabler of this interrelationship.

As a managerial implication, these findings suggest that for social enterprise managers, a higher level of opportunities to knowledge exchange will increase the motivation and ability to knowledge exchange and combine, which in turn will lead to knowledge creation underlying innovativeness. Reinforcing shared vision will maintain a higher social innovativeness through improved resource sharing opportunities facilitated by common understandings. An important implication of these significant findings to organisational social capital scholars is to consider the inclusion of all the three dimensions of organisational social capital in conceptualising social capital. Another implication is to consider the interrelationship among the three dimensions in modelling organisational social capital. These findings make a useful implication to knowledge management scholars to consider the application of opportunity-motivation-ability factors as a set of functional variables to explain knowledge creation. Further, the significant thesis findings highlight the promising applicability and importance of conceptualising firm-level innovativeness as an aspect of organisational culture. Future research can confirm the study results with larger population samples, examine the effects of the interrelationship among the social capital dimensions and test the moderation effects of the social mission on the relationship between organisational social capital and innovativeness.

By clarifying the mechanism between organisational social capital and social innovativeness of Australian social enterprises, this thesis model contributes to a richer understanding of the organisational social capital theory of innovativeness from a strategic perspective. Further, the rigorous demonstration of the mechanism of developing innovativeness extends the organisational social capital and innovativeness relationship into a new, previously overlooked application area, the social enterprise context. This theory testing at the intersection expands the boundaries of underpinning conceptual domains.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Management
Subjects Business and Management not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) organisational social capital
knowledge creation
social enterprise
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Created: Tue, 27 Nov 2018, 14:39:38 EST by Keely Chapman
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