Research seminar “SOCIAL ENTERPRISE INTERVENTION AND RISK IN POSTWAR SUDAN” by Samer Abdelnour, Assistant Professor, Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University
WHEN: Thursday, January 18, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
WHERE: Block C3 (GSB/GSPP Building), 3rd floor, Room 3038
Governments and non-profit organizations increasingly employ enterprise-oriented social interventions to empower target beneficiaries to overcome the societal problems they face (e.g. unemployment, poverty, or socioeconomic exclusion). By promoting entrepreneurship as a way of life, social enterprise interventions encourage the diffusion of entrepreneurial actorhood (identities, roles, and practices) in the hopes of mitigating societal risks. Social enterprise interventions are thus inherently paradoxical: they seek to empower marginalized beneficiaries to overcome societal risks through entrepreneurial practices that, by their very essence, are inherently risky. I explore this intervention-risk paradox through the analysis of a social intervention to reorient former combatants to civilian life through cooperative enterprises in Blue Nile State, Sudan. Findings suggest that notions of risk are regularly absent from intervention ideals, perpetuating the idea that enterprise interventions are capable of empower social change. Though social enterprise interventions provide material and symbolic benefits to beneficiaries, they involve societal, institutional, and entrepreneurial risks. In postwar contexts, social interventions face the additional risk that benefactors may unwittingly reproduce wartime disparities in intervention settings. Just as risk is inherent to entrepreneurship, the risk paradox is an integral feature of social enterprise interventions.
Samer Abdelnour is Assistant Professor at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, The Netherlands. He employs organization theory and qualitative methods to study topics such as improved cookstoves and gender violence, and the reintegration of former fighters in the Sudan. He has published in Organization Studies, International Political Sociology, Journal of International Business Studies and Journal of Business Research.