We know a lot about social ventures and high-tech firms, but in a world awash with crises and where governments are pressured to reduce their spending, the practice of applying advanced technologies to find more efficient market solutions that can tackle societal issues is still in its infancy. This study explores the case of Technology Social Ventures (TSVs) to understand how the simultaneous integration of a social mission and a tech-based strategy impact their business. Moreover, the article investigates how this combination affects TSVs in comparison with traditional Social Ventures (SVs) and New Technology-Based Firms (NTBFs), where the social and technological aspects are not integrated.
The empirical work is based on a qualitative study, where a sample of 15 TSVs operating in different sectors across Europe is investigated. The findings show how all TSVs share some invariant elements, complemented by dynamic factors that differentiate their needs and activities, depending on their main driver, belonging sector and technology adopted. Overall, the article argues that the adoption of a social mission by a NTBF generates more complexity with respect to the benefits brought by the integration of technology within SVs.
These findings contribute to the literature at the intersection between social and high-tech entrepreneurship, calling for further research that could inform policy-makers on the specific needs of these firms, at each stage of their development. Finally, investors and managers might benefit from this study, as they can identify more easily the opportunities and challenges of leading a tech-based venture with a social mission.
Author: Gianlorenzo Meggio.
Abstract presented during the European Academy of Management 2022 Conference, 15-17 June 2022, Winterthur (Switzerland). An earlier version of this work was presented during the 7th Conference of the Network of Early Career Researchers in Sustainable Transition (NEST) held on 5-6 May 2022 in Lyon (France).