Abstract

Social entrepreneurship implies major organizational challenges when it comes to the viability of such initiatives that blend social mission and entrepreneurial skills and mindset – a blend known as the “double bottom line”. One of these challenges is CEO succession. We define succession as the process occurring between the moment at which the entrepreneur starts thinking about the continuity of his/her activity and the point in time when the successor officially takes over both the management and the ownership of the organization. Although identified as an issue as important as growth (Imperatori & Ruta, 2006), succession has been hardly empirically examined in the context of social entrepreneurial ventures (SEVs). However, we believe that this context can offer unique insights on this issue given that succession in SEVs can be made more complex by the importance of passion and commitment to social goals. Like in any entrepreneurial firm, the social entrepreneur can be considered as one of the key success factors of the SEV, and his/her replacement can be even trickier when his/her visionary and ethical concerns are deeply rooted. Hence, the problem does not lie as much in the lack of potential candidates as in the availability of talented candidates committed to the double bottom line (Peattie & Morley, 2006).

Thus, our research question is: which succession strategies (familial, internal, or external) are better suited to help SEVs outlast the departure of the social entrepreneur?

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