Social Enterprise Places: a place-based initiative facilitating syntactic, semantic and pragmatic constructions of legitimacy

Anthony Samuel, Gareth White, Ken Peattie, Robert Thomas

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    Abstract

    Social Enterprises are becoming a significant force of social as well as economic good despite facing many difficulties that are brought about by their unique characteristics. Chief among these is the question of their perceived legitimacy that impinges upon their ability to gain funding, acquire contracts and appear as capable organisations to potential partnering institutions.
    This study explores the means by which Social Enterprises are legitimized through participation in the Social Enterprise Place (SEP) programme in the UK. By examining the Boundary Objects (BO) that span the intersections of the incumbent social groups it identifies three pillars upon which SEPs have facilitated SE legitimacy. These pillars comprise (i) the place-based language (syntactic BO), that enables the identification of (ii) common social goals (semantic BOs), and thereby enables the (iii) mobilization of resources toward their resolution (pragmatic BOs).
    This research provides insight into the facilitation of legitimacy for Social Enterprises that are engaged in a place-based initiative. By responding to Peterson’s (2016) call for macromarketers to take more note of meso level marketing dynamics in different industries the paper highlights the potential for place to facilitate the legitimacy of SEs. In addition, it reveals a further macromarketing dimension to Boundary Object plasticity whereby they may evolve through syntactic, semantic and pragmatic forms over time.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)51-70
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Macromarketing
    Volume42
    Issue number1
    Early online date24 Nov 2021
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Nov 2021

    Keywords

    • social enterprise
    • place
    • boundary object
    • legitimacy
    • macromarketing

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