Professor’s Social Enterprise ‘Paradox’ Study Earns Best Paper Award

Toyah Miller
Toyah Miller

New Naveen Jindal School of Management faculty member Toyah Miller’s passion for using business skills to create societal change earned recognition recently when she and research colleague Curtis L. Wesley won the Best Paper Award and $5,000 at the 11th Annual Social Entrepreneurship Conference.

Miller, an associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship in JSOM’s Organizations, Strategy and International Management Area, partnered with Wesley, an assistant professor of management at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, on “The Paradox of the Conflicted Heart: Probing the Effects of Logic Integration on Goal Conflict and Entrepreneurial Orientation in Social Enterprises.”

They presented the work at the conference, which brought more than 100 researchers from around the world to Boston in early November. Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business and New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business sponsored the conference.

Social enterprises are special hybrids, Miller says, that define themselves as having a dual mission to create a financial and a social value “in order to resolve specific market, governmental or social-sector failures.”

Yet, little is known about how the entrepreneurs at the head of such enterprises manage potential conflicts between financial and social goals, “or even whether conflict is really inevitable,” Miller says.

In the study, “we examined how social entrepreneurs’ pro-social motivation influences their perceptions of goal conflict, the extent to which social and financial goals collide and where the pursuit of one goal harms the probability of achieving the other.”

“We also explored how integrating value-creation logic — whereby the paying customer and the beneficiary are the same — decreases flexibility and promotes goal conflict.”