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Social enterprising informing our concept: exploring informal micro social enterprise.

Anderson, Alistair R.; Younis, Sohail; Hashim, Hina; Air, Carol


Alistair R. Anderson

Sohail Younis

Hina Hashim


Purpose: The paper investigates an unusual form of social enterprising located in a poor region of Pakistan. The purpose of this paper is to examine a novel form of micro social enterprise. Their form and functions are considered, examining how they conform to what is expected of a social enterprise. The extreme cases are analysed to reflect on what constitutes the explanatory characteristics of a social enterprise. Design/methodology/approach: Information on examples of micro social entrepreneurship was collected from the troubled context of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a very poor region of Pakistan. Using the constant comparison method, explanatory themes of structure and practice are drawn out. Findings: These enterprising social agents were engaged in opening up an opportunity space for those disadvantaged by the context. Driven by a strong sense of community responsibility, they drew upon limited, but culturally available resources. Relevance, embeddedness and informality were identified as structural characteristics, and bricolage and effectuation, frugality and social responsibility emerged as practices. Not only did context shape what they did and how they did it, but the purpose of these enterprises was also to help reshape context. From this analysis, it is argued that conceptual concerns should be directed towards behaviours; it should be asked how are enterprises agents of social change, and how are they enterprising? Research limitations/implications: It is argued that a robust indicator for social enterprise is not what they are, but what they do. Consequently, for understanding and theorising, it is suggested that the focus remain on enterprising. This study was limited to unusual cases which may be atypical and ungeneralisable. Nonetheless, the concept – enterprising – may have theoretical applications. Social implications: In reviewing the analysis and findings, it is noted that the proposals in the paper may comprise the early stages of a theory of social entrepreneurship practice. There may be considerable explanatory power in examining the interplays between the agency of social enterprises and the structures that are constituted in the formal and informal institutions with whom they interact. Originality/value: Descriptively, the account draws attention to a possibly neglected phenomenon. Moreover, the extreme cases draw out the significance of a localised practice. Conceptually, there may be value in prioritising practice in social enterprise rather than form and structure.


ANDERSON, A., YOUNIS, S., HASHIM, H. and AIR, C. 2019. Social enterprising informing our concept: exploring informal micro social enterprise. Social enterprise journal [online], 15(1), pages 94-110. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 18, 2018
Online Publication Date Feb 4, 2019
Publication Date Mar 31, 2019
Deposit Date Jun 22, 2018
Publicly Available Date Feb 4, 2019
Journal Social enterprise journal
Print ISSN 1750-8614
Electronic ISSN 1750-8533
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 1
Pages 94-110
Keywords Social enterprise; Poverty; Pakistan; Context; Practices; Women
Public URL


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