Coopetition Among Social Enterprises: A Three-Level Dynamic Motivated by Social and Economic Goals

Daniel Arenas, Solange Hai, Chiara De Bernardi

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


While scholars have analyzed the emergence and characteristics of social enterprises, and their internal tensions between conflicting logics, we have little understanding of the dynamics at the interorganizational level between social enterprises. Based on an in-depth, qualitative study with work integration social enterprises in the secondhand clothes industry, we uncover the dynamics of simultaneous cooperation and competition. Our analysis shows that social enterprises simultaneously—rather than sequentially—engage in coopetitive actions at three levels of action: operational, stakeholder, and environmental interface. At each level, social enterprises engage in different coopetitive actions that do not easily fall under the commercial–social tension usually studied in the social entrepreneurship literature. Social and economic goals motivate both competition and cooperation, but we argue that this plays out differently at each level of coopetition. We conclude with implications for theory and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-185
Number of pages21
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • collaboration
  • coopetition
  • hybrid organization
  • social enterprise
  • tension


Dive into the research topics of 'Coopetition Among Social Enterprises: A Three-Level Dynamic Motivated by Social and Economic Goals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this