Can Cross-Sector Support Help Social Enterprises in Legitimacy Building? The Mixed Effects in Hong Kong
Keywords:Social Enterprise, Legitimacy, Institutional Pressures, Cross-Sector Collaboration, Metagovernance
Cross-sector collaboration is widely considered beneficial for the sustainable development of social enterprises (SEs). This study provides a nuanced assessment of the impacts of cross-sector collaboration in supporting SE development (cross-sector support; CSS) by highlighting legitimacy building as the crucial goal for SEs in achieving sustainability. Studying Hong Kong, we examine the institutional pressures confronting SEs in their legitimacy building, their efforts to respond, and the role of CSS therein. Data from surveys and in-depth interviews show that the three key types of CSS—venture capital, operational, and promotional—have mixed effects on the efforts of SEs to cope with the various institutional pressures. Our findings suggest the necessity of an integrated blend of governance styles—a metagovernance approach—in shaping and guiding CSS of SEs and an approach that is sensitive to the plural, changing pressures in SE entrepreneurial processes to achieve financial sustainability as well as social legitimacy.
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