UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Values, culture, social capital, change : the case of The Car Coop Osborn, Jeremy


This is a study of the oppositional social forces at play within and around the hybrid commercial social enterprise. The literature reveals these tension points regularly in the history of the social enterprise movement as a whole, and within individual organizations within the movement. Typically, these tension points, quasi-paradoxes, or oppositional co-existences are cultural and values-based in nature, stemming largely from a core egalitarian-utilitarian synthesis that is emerging globally in many forms, including via social enterprise. Consequently, the theoretical frameworks used to explore these questions are also socio-cultural, economic, and values-based. In the early years of the coop, the social entrepreneur is the key mediating force between the entrepreneurial, market-building demands of a new business, and the egalitarian institutional cultural predisposition that led to its creation. Later in the institutional history the social entrepreneur’s prolonged success at market development catalyzes a wider stakeholder debate and cultural crisis regarding the future of the institution under conditions of rapid and persistent growth. The organization’s members, arguably the most important stakeholder, are explored last - as a separate unit of analysis, but through a similar values-culture tension lens. It is found that the organization's members hold a complex, often paradoxical mix of utilitarian and egalitarian values, and that both are important to the organization's value proposition. The study is a qualitative inductive ethnography undertaken in the format of a single paradigmatic case study.

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