Collective capabilities for organizational democracy: the case of mutual social enterprises

Article


Vickers, I., Lyon, F. and Sepulveda Ramirez, L. 2024. Collective capabilities for organizational democracy: the case of mutual social enterprises. British Journal of Management. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8551.12840
TypeArticle
TitleCollective capabilities for organizational democracy: the case of mutual social enterprises
AuthorsVickers, I., Lyon, F. and Sepulveda Ramirez, L.
Abstract

Democratic forms of enterprise and economic governance are needed to help address urgent societal challenges where hierarchical decision-making and governance approaches are clearly failing. There is insufficient understanding, however, of the capabilities needed by enterprises to implement and sustain organizational democracy in pressurised operational contexts. We focus on the role of collective capabilities which arise from interactions between individuals to create collaboration and collective benefits. Interview evidence from 12 mutual social enterprises – organisations that trade with a social purpose – is used to explore the learning processes that underpin the generation of collective capabilities for organizational democracy. The analysis leads us to a theoretical model of collective capabilities development that responds to three fundamental areas of challenge: (i) Adaptive design of governance structures and processes, to balance ‘bottom-up’ democracy with ‘top-down’ stewardship control; (ii) Embedding, extending and revitalizing democracy, by supporting the voice, capabilities and confidence of workers and users to participate in collaborative governance; (iii) Fostering deliberative learning, to navigate tensions and conflict between plural perspectives and achieve collective aims. In concluding, we reflect on some institutional and cultural barriers to organizational democracy and the case for more concerted policy action to realize its potential as a crucial component of economic democracy.

Keywordscapabilities; democracy; governance; hybrids; inclusive decision-making; social enterprise
Sustainable Development Goals10 Reduced inequalities
12 Responsible consumption and production
16 Peace, justice and strong institutions
8 Decent work and economic growth
9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
17 Partnerships for the goals
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
Health & Wellbeing
Sustainability
Research GroupCentre for Enterprise, Environment and Development Research (CEEDR)
PublisherWiley
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Publication dates
Online05 Jun 2024
Publication process dates
Submitted03 Jul 2023
Accepted14 May 2024
Deposited07 Jun 2024
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Copyright Statement

© 2024 The Author(s). British Journal of Management published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Academy of
Management.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8551.12840
Web of Science identifierWOS:001238722200001
LanguageEnglish
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North, D., Smallbone, D. and Vickers, I. 2003. SMEs and the innovative capability of regions: London’s Lee Valley region in a European context. in: Kirby, D. and Watson, A. (ed.) Small firms and economic development in developed and transition economies: a reader Aldershot Ashgate.
The social relations of economic life and networks of civic engagement: ‘Social capital’ and targeted development in West Africa.
Lyon, F. and Porter, G. 2005. The social relations of economic life and networks of civic engagement: ‘Social capital’ and targeted development in West Africa. in: Cline-Cole, R. and Robson, E. (ed.) West African worlds: paths through socio-economic change, livelihoods and development. Harlow Pearson.
Measuring the contributions of small firms to reducing poverty and increasing social inclusion in the UK
Lyon, F. and Bertotti, M. 2007. Measuring the contributions of small firms to reducing poverty and increasing social inclusion in the UK. in: Stoner, J. and Wankel, C. (ed.) Innovative approaches to reducing global poverty. Charlotte, USA Information Age Publishing.
Interventions to tackle the economic needs of deprived areas: analysis of six policy case studies.
North, D., Syrett, S., Etherington, D., Vickers, I. and CEEDR (Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research) 2007. Interventions to tackle the economic needs of deprived areas: analysis of six policy case studies. York Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Business-led regeneration of deprived areas: a review of the evidence base. [Research report 5]
North, D., Smallbone, D., Lyon, F., Potts, G. and CEEDR (Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research) 2003. Business-led regeneration of deprived areas: a review of the evidence base. [Research report 5]. London Office of the Deputy Prime Minister..
Complementarity and co-ordination of self-employment support in rural areas.
Lyon, F. and CEEDR (Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research) 2002. Complementarity and co-ordination of self-employment support in rural areas. Countryside Agency.
Formalising new arrival enterprises: challenges of new ethnic entrepreneurship for business support policy.
Sepulveda Ramirez, L., Lyon, F., Botero, A., Syrett, S. and CEEDR (Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research) 2007. Formalising new arrival enterprises: challenges of new ethnic entrepreneurship for business support policy. Prevista Ltd.
Provide advice on methods to improve promotion and facilitation of Rural Enterprise Scheme - RE0114
Lyon, F., CEEDR (Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research) and Plunkett Foundation 2003. Provide advice on methods to improve promotion and facilitation of Rural Enterprise Scheme - RE0114. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The contribution of social enterprises to rural economies.
Lyon, F. and CEEDR (Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research) 2003. The contribution of social enterprises to rural economies. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Evaluation of the support for enterprising communities pilot project.
Lyon, F., Evans, M., Ramsden, M., Burch, J. and CEEDR (Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research) 2005. Evaluation of the support for enterprising communities pilot project. Department of Education and Skills..
A note on trust, networks, social capital and entrepreneurial behaviour.
Smallbone, D. and Lyon, F. 2002. A note on trust, networks, social capital and entrepreneurial behaviour. in: Hohmann, H. and Welter, F. (ed.) Entrepreneurial strategies and trust: structure and evolution of entrepreneurial behavioural patterns in East and West European environments. Bremen Forschungsstelle Osteurpa.
Entrepreneurship
Lyon, F. 2004. Entrepreneurship. in: Forsyth, T. (ed.) Encyclopedia of international development. London Routledge.
Regional technology initiatives: some insights from the English regions
Vickers, I. and North, D. 2000. Regional technology initiatives: some insights from the English regions. European Planning Studies. 8 (3), pp. 301-318. https://doi.org/10.1080/713666413
Regulating health and safety in small firms.
Smallbone, D., Vickers, I., James, P. and Owen, R. 2005. Regulating health and safety in small firms. in: Gray, C. and Bannock, G. (ed.) Government regulation and the small firm Milton Keynes, UK Open University Business School.
The role and characteristics of SMEs.
Smallbone, D., North, D. and Vickers, I. 2003. The role and characteristics of SMEs. in: Asheim, B. (ed.) Regional innovation policy for small-medium enterprises. Cheltenham Edward Elgar.
The Nigerian market: fuelling conflict or contributing to peace.
Lyon, F., Porter, G., Adamu, F. and Obafemi, L. 2006. The Nigerian market: fuelling conflict or contributing to peace. in: Banfield, J., Gunduz, C. and Killick, N. (ed.) Local business, local peace: the peace building potential of the domestic private sector. London International Alert. pp. 432-437
Social enterprise and the environment: a review of the literature
Vickers, I. 2010. Social enterprise and the environment: a review of the literature. Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham.
Better regulation and enterprise: the case of environmental health risk regulation in Britain
Vickers, I. 2008. Better regulation and enterprise: the case of environmental health risk regulation in Britain. Policy Studies. 29 (2), pp. 215-232. https://doi.org/10.1080/01442870802033514
Conflict and cooperation in market spaces: learning from the operation of local networks of civic engagement in African market trade
Porter, G., Lyon, F., Adamu, F. and Obafemi, L. 2010. Conflict and cooperation in market spaces: learning from the operation of local networks of civic engagement in African market trade. Human Organization. 69 (1), pp. 31-42. https://doi.org/10.17730/humo.69.1.8u3348v356574016
Evolving institutions of trust: personalized and institutional bases of trust in Nigerian and Ghanaian food trading
Lyon, F. and Porter, G. 2010. Evolving institutions of trust: personalized and institutional bases of trust in Nigerian and Ghanaian food trading. in: Saunders, M., Skinner, D., Dietz, G., Gillespie, N. and Lewicki, R. (ed.) Organizational trust: a cultural perspective Cambridge, UK Cambridge University Press. pp. 255-278
External evaluation of Innovation Exchange.
Lyon, F. and CEEDR 2010. External evaluation of Innovation Exchange. London Middlesex University.
Outsider missing link or panacea? Some Reflections about the place of social enterprise (with)in and in relation to the Third Sector.
Sepulveda Ramirez, L. 2009. Outsider missing link or panacea? Some Reflections about the place of social enterprise (with)in and in relation to the Third Sector. Birmingham Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham.
Alternative approaches to capacity building: practices in the public and private sector.
Lyon, F. 2009. Alternative approaches to capacity building: practices in the public and private sector. CEEDR, Middlesex University.
Market institutions, trust and norms: exploring moral economies in Nigerian food systems
Lyon, F. and Porter, G. 2009. Market institutions, trust and norms: exploring moral economies in Nigerian food systems. Cambridge Journal of Economics. 33 (5), pp. 903-920. https://doi.org/10.1093/cje/bem008
Moral economy and development economics: introduction
Lyon, F., Olsen, W. and Sanghera, B. 2009. Moral economy and development economics: introduction. Cambridge Journal of Economics. 33 (5), pp. 871-873. https://doi.org/10.1093/cje/bep053
Decentralizing industrial policies: threat or opportunity in developing countries?
Sepulveda Ramirez, L. and Amin, A. 2006. Decentralizing industrial policies: threat or opportunity in developing countries? in: Bianchi, P. and Labory, S. (ed.) International Handbook on Industrial Policy Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 321-342
Innovation and the use of technology in manufacturing plants and SMEs: an interregional study
Vickers, I., North, D., Smallbone, D. and Roper, S. 2003. Innovation and the use of technology in manufacturing plants and SMEs: an interregional study. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. 21 (1), pp. 37-52. https://doi.org/10.1068/c0218
Influences on small firm compliance-related behaviour: the case of workplace health and safety.
Owen, R., James, P., Smallbone, D. and Vickers, I. 2006. Influences on small firm compliance-related behaviour: the case of workplace health and safety. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. 24 (6), pp. 827-846. https://doi.org/10.1068/c0564
Understanding small firm responses to regulation: the case of workplace health and safety
Vickers, I., Smallbone, D., James, P. and Owen, R. 2005. Understanding small firm responses to regulation: the case of workplace health and safety. Policy Studies. 26 (2), pp. 149-169. https://doi.org/10.1080/01442870500127626
Public sector support for innovating SMEs
North, D., Smallbone, D. and Vickers, I. 2001. Public sector support for innovating SMEs. Small Business Economics. 16 (4), pp. 303-317. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011164801073
The use of external sources of health and safety information and advice: the case of small firms
Vickers, I., Smallbone, D. and Owen, R. 2004. The use of external sources of health and safety information and advice: the case of small firms. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety. 2 (1), pp. 91-104.
Spatializing industrial policies: a view from the south
Sepulveda Ramirez, L. 2008. Spatializing industrial policies: a view from the south. Regional Studies. 42 (10), pp. 1385-1397. https://doi.org/10.1080/00343400701543223
Spatialising industrial policies: a view from the south
Sepulveda Ramirez, L. 2008. Spatialising industrial policies: a view from the south. Regional Studies. 42 (10), pp. 1385-1397. https://doi.org/10.1080/00343400701543223
Combining scientific and lay knowledges: participatory approaches to research in organic
Lyon, F. and Harris, F. 2008. Combining scientific and lay knowledges: participatory approaches to research in organic. in: Fish, R., Seymour, S., Watkins, C. and Seven, M. (ed.) Sustainable farmland management: new transdisciplinary approaches. Wallingford CAB International. pp. 94-106
Market institutions and urban food supply in West and Southern Africa: a review
Porter, G., Lyon, F. and Potts, D. 2007. Market institutions and urban food supply in West and Southern Africa: a review. Progress in Development Studies. 7 (2), pp. 115-134. https://doi.org/10.1177/146499340600700203
Institutional perspectives on understanding street retailer behavior and networks: cases from Ghana
Lyon, F. 2007. Institutional perspectives on understanding street retailer behavior and networks: cases from Ghana. in: Cross, J. and Morales, A. (ed.) Street Entrepreneurs: People, Place, & Politics in Local and Global Perspective London, UK Taylor & Francis (Routledge).
Enterprising refugees: contributions and challenges in deprived areas
Lyon, F., Sepulveda Ramirez, L. and Syrett, S. 2007. Enterprising refugees: contributions and challenges in deprived areas. Local Economy. 22 (4), pp. 363-375. https://doi.org/10.1080/02690940701736769
Out of the shadows? Formalisation approaches to informal economic activity
Sepulveda Ramirez, L. and Syrett, S. 2007. Out of the shadows? Formalisation approaches to informal economic activity. Policy and Politics. 35 (1), pp. 87-104. https://doi.org/10.1332/030557307779657739
Social capital as culture? Promoting cooperative action in Ghana
Porter, G. and Lyon, F. 2006. Social capital as culture? Promoting cooperative action in Ghana. in: Radcliffe, S. (ed.) Culture and Development in a Globalizing World: Geographies, Actors and Paradigms Taylor & Francis (Routledge). pp. 150-169
Groups as a means or an end? Social capital and the promotion of cooperation in Ghana
Porter, G. and Lyon, F. 2006. Groups as a means or an end? Social capital and the promotion of cooperation in Ghana. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 24 (2), pp. 249-262. https://doi.org/10.1068/d0303
Developing fledgling social enterprises? A study of the support required and the means of delivering it
Lyon, F. and Ramsden, M. 2006. Developing fledgling social enterprises? A study of the support required and the means of delivering it. Social Enterprise Journal. 2 (1), pp. 27-41. https://doi.org/10.1108/17508610680000711
Managing co-operation: trust and power in Ghanaian associations
Lyon, F. 2006. Managing co-operation: trust and power in Ghanaian associations. Organization Studies. 27 (1), pp. 31-52. https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840605056392
Learning and research for sustainable agro-ecosystems by both farmers and scientists.
Lyon, F., Clarke, S., Harris, F., Wolf, M. and Gibbon, D. 2005. Learning and research for sustainable agro-ecosystems by both farmers and scientists. London Middlesex University.
Trust, co-operation and networking in an immigrant business community: the case of Chinese-owned businesses in the UK
Smallbone, D., Lyon, F. and Xiao, L. 2005. Trust, co-operation and networking in an immigrant business community: the case of Chinese-owned businesses in the UK. in: Hohmann, H. and Welter, F. (ed.) Trust and Entrepreneurship: a West–East Perspective Cheltenham, UK Edward Elgar.
Markets, ethnicity and environment in a vulnerable landscape: the case of small-scale vegetable production on the Jos Plateau, Nigeria, 1991-2001.
Porter, G., Harris, F., Lyon, F., Adeptu, A. and Dung, J. 2003. Markets, ethnicity and environment in a vulnerable landscape: the case of small-scale vegetable production on the Jos Plateau, Nigeria, 1991-2001. Geographical Journal. 169 (4), pp. 370-381. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0016-7398.2003.00100.x
Community groups and livelihoods in remote rural areas of Ghana: how small-scale farmers sustain collective action
Lyon, F. 2003. Community groups and livelihoods in remote rural areas of Ghana: how small-scale farmers sustain collective action. Community Development Journal. 38 (4), pp. 323-331. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdj/38.4.323
The relations of co-operation in group enterprises and associations in Ghana: exploration of issues of trust and power
Lyon, F. 2003. The relations of co-operation in group enterprises and associations in Ghana: exploration of issues of trust and power. in: Sforzi, F. (ed.) The institutions of local development Ashgate.
Trader associations and urban food systems in Ghana: institutionalist approaches to understanding urban collective action
Lyon, F. 2003. Trader associations and urban food systems in Ghana: institutionalist approaches to understanding urban collective action. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 27 (1), pp. 11-23. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.00428
Cleaner production: organisational learning or business as usual? An example from the domestic appliance industry
Vickers, I. 2000. Cleaner production: organisational learning or business as usual? An example from the domestic appliance industry. Business Strategy and the Environment. 9 (4), pp. 255-268. https://doi.org/10.1002/1099-0836(200007/08)9:4<255::AID-BSE252>3.0.CO;2-A
Trust, networks and norms: the creation of social capital in agricultural economies in Ghana
Lyon, F. 2000. Trust, networks and norms: the creation of social capital in agricultural economies in Ghana. World Development. 28 (4), pp. 663-682. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0305-750X(99)00146-1