Stakeholders matter: how social enterprises address mission drift

Tommaso Ramus*, Antonino Vaccaro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

198 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores social enterprises’ strategies for addressing mission drift. Relying on an inductive comparative case study of two Italian social enterprises, we show how stakeholder engagement combined with social accounting can successfully support a social venture to re-balance its positioning between wealth generation and social value creation. Indeed, stakeholder engagement helps the internal actors of a social enterprise to rationalize and embody pro-social values previously abandoned, while social accounting reinforces this embodiment process by showing the reintroduced social commitment of the social enterprise to external audiences. Conversely, strategies focused only on social accounting and without significant engagement of external stakeholders prove to be unsuccessful in counterbalancing mission drift because they fail to activate the necessary process of internal re-introduction and operationalization of pro-social values and objectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-322
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Mission drift
  • Social accounting
  • Social enterprises
  • Stakeholder engagement


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