Abstract

The ubiquity and complexity of social problems yield a wide array of opportunities available to social entrepreneurs (Austin et al., 2006). Given the substantial demand for social value- creating activities, social entrepreneurs may be tempted to pursue more than one opportunity. We currently have little understanding of how the pursuit of multiple opportunities influences organizational performance, yet simplicity theory (Miller, 1993) may serve as a knowledge-base in forming expectations. As explained by Miller (1993:117), a simplistic organization possesses a “preoccupation with a single goal, strategic activity, department, or world-view.” Research on strategic simplicity argues that a focused strategy is beneficial for new firms, yet detrimental for mature firms. We build on the notion of simplicity to argue that an organization that focuses on one opportunity is simpler than an organization that focuses on multiple opportunities. Based on this argument and simplicity theory, we hypothesize that new social organizations which focus on one social entrepreneurial opportunity will outperform those that focus on multiple opportunities. We further hypothesize that the degree of relatedness between the opportunities an organization pursues positively moderates the relationship between simplicity and performance.

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