Individual action through social organisations: The case of poverty


There is arguably a lack of research on organisations with social goals in management. For an extreme case, i.e. of poverty, Prahalad (2006) described compelling examples of innovative organizations in South Asia, which he suggested served the poor. However, very little is known about: 1) What factors ‘cause’ social organisations, for instance, in settings of extreme poverty, to grow and scale up ‘successfully,’ and how and why?, and 2) What organisational factors influence ‘social performance’ for target groups, and how and why, and under which conditions (where and when), and for whom?

Building on insights from our earlier theoretical and empirical work on networks, leadership, and learning, as well as our extensive pilot studies in India, we will explore how and why social organisations grow and scale up, in relation to social outcomes for relevant target groups, using mixed methods (a qualitative phase followed by a quantitative phase, to first build and then test theory).

We propose to study organisations in an extreme setting, where arguably, social problems are worst: of poverty in South Asia, and picked the education sector given its potential importance for enabling people to move out of poverty. We believe that a better understanding of how and why organisations scale up successfully to enable target groups in poverty to be more proactive is also relevant from a practical perspective. It is for instance at the heart of the new Sustainable Development Goals, and it is our hope to make a contribution into this direction.

For further information, please visit the project website.

Grant Agreement number: 695524

Project website