FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes
University of Bristol Featured PhD Programmes
FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes

Performance measurement for social entrepreneurial ventures in the UK: the role of business model design in business growth and social impact generation


   Faculty of Business and Law

  Dr Ekaterina Murzacheva, Dr Shuangfa Huang,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the Strategy, Enterprise and Innovation subject group and will be supervised by Dr Ekaterina Murzacheva, Dr Shuangfa Huang and Professor Martina Battisti.  

The work on this project will:

  • Create a comprehensive database of social enterprises in the county of Hampshire (the choice of UK region can vary);
  • Characterise the scope and range of social enterprises in the selected area;
  • Advance a typology of social enterprises to differentiate their business models, and capture the level of hybridity within the design;
  • Develop and validate a multidimensional construct of social enterprise performance that would reflect the level of hybridity within an organisation;
  • Test the antecedents of the level of hybridity and social enterprise performance;
  • Contribute to the knowledge area of social impact (both positive and negative) to understand the value creation process of social ventures for a wider range of stakeholders. 

Project description

The key distinction of social enterprises is the mix of economic and social incentives to achieve financial sustainability, and at the same time to encourage social change and impact. While a growing stream of the research has been focusing on exploring this peculiar nature of such ventures, still little is known about how these dual missions are transformed into the business growth (Rawhouser et al., 2019). It has been evidenced that the majority of social entrepreneurial organisations struggle to grow in a conventional sense, mainly due to the limited access to resources (Bojica et al., 2018). Most of the research at the organisation-level is case-based, where the population of interest is often undefined. Yet it points out the tensions within the ‘hybrid’ models leading to ‘missions drifts’ (Battilana & Lee, 2014; Saebi et al., 2019). Managing these tensions and, occasionally, conflicting goals presumably drives entrepreneurial choices towards a particular business model design, and approach to business development, ultimately affecting the firm’s performance. 

The hybridity of social enterprises further suggests that apart from the economic growth, social impact is an inherent part of the performance construct. This is important not only from the societal point of view, but also in relation to (social) investments, and public funds allocation. The conceptualisation and measurement of social impact have been inconsistent and are still under development. Specifically, the measurements are hampered by the sample selection criteria, where the identification of social enterprises is of a separate challenge (Rawhouser, et al, 2019; Gupta et al., 2020).

There is no single database in the UK which would include an up-to-date information about social enterprises by region. Social Enterprise UK is the most comprehensive source of such information, although still limited to certain areas. Moreover, it relies on self-identification of the organisations as ‘social’, thus does not represent a methodologically robust data source. Their Social Enterprise Places initiative extends its reach to social ventures through councils, Universities, and other organisations. Yet, a significant number of regions in the UK have not been captured. Moreover, their aim is to recognise the ‘hot spots’ of social entrepreneurship activity, rather than understand their scope and forms. 

General admissions criteria

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements 

The candidates are expected to be familiar with and skilled at quantitative research methods. A previous experience of conducting a quantitative research project (including sample design, and constructs development) is of advantage. The understanding of social enterprise sector is desirable, although not essential. 

How to Apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Ekaterina Murzacheva () to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Business and Management PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field. 

When applying please quote project code: SE&I4851021


Funding Notes

Self-funded PhD students only.
Please View Website for tuition fee information and discounts.

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