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The relationships between strength of ties, absorptive capacity cum type of knowledge, and values creation : an exploratory sequential mixed methodology study of service-based social enterprise in Thailand


Author: Bunyasiriroj Satawat
Under the direction of: Carine Dominguez Pery and Vincent Michel Ribière
Grenoble Alpes University
English Language English text

Keywords: Management sciences, Thailand, Strength of links, Absorptive capacity, Types of knowledge, Value creation, Social enterprise, Social economy enterprises.


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Social enterprise is a sustainable approach to organically reducing social problems and creating impacts by using the mechanisms of business. The adoption of this approach can potentially help to improve the sustainable development of individual countries. This is especially the case for service-based social enterprises, where strengthening knowledge networks (ties strength), which comprise external and internal knowledge transfer processes, leads to the creation of economic and social values through the organization’s absorptive capacity. Currently, there is no published empirical research in this domain and in the context of service-based social enterprises in Thailand, which means there are gaps that need to be addressed. One of which is to identify the different ties strength in knowledge networks and knowledge types (content based) in organization’s absorptive capacity that are relevant in the context of service-based social enterprises. Another is the missing link between strength of ties, absorptive capacity based on the type of knowledge (content), and value creation in service-based social enterprises. Both of these aspects are the focus of this study. An exploratory sequential mixed method was used for this research. Initially, a qualitative research approach explores the various types of ties strength in the Thai service-based social enterprises’ network and their absorptive capacity cum knowledge types. This exploratory case study approach identifies the types of ties and describes the roles and characteristics of each type of tie in the service-based social enterprise networks (e.g. business tie, political tie, university and research tie, social enterprise tie, and social stakeholder tie). Additionally, it examines in more depth the role of absorptive capacity in service-based social enterprises. It also explores the types of knowledge (content based) transferred in the Thai service-based social enterprise network (social enterprise managerial knowledge, technological knowledge, market knowledge, and social knowledge). The qualitative findings reflect certain degrees of contextual sensitivity, which helps to better understand the implications of these additional ties and knowledge types in this novel context. The findings of the qualitative research are used to develop research hypotheses and a theoretical model that is tested in the quantitative part of this study. The second part of this study adopts a quantitative approach to investigate the relationships between ties strength, absorptive capacity cum knowledge types, and value creation (social and economic) for service-based social enterprises in Thailand. A survey is used to collect data from a random sample of service-based social enterprises in Thailand (72) and the data is analyzed using Partial Least Squares of Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM). The unit of analysis is at the organizational network level. This exploratory sequential mixed method research ensures that the quantitative data explain the results from the initial qualitative phase of the study. The empirical results highlight the positive relationships between strength of ties, absorptive capacity based on the type of knowledge (content), and value creation (social and economic value creation). Interestingly, absorptive capacity is found to act as a mediator between the ties strength and the social enterprise value creation in service-based social enterprises, highlighting its importance and the importance of the managers in these contexts. In addition to the theoretical contributions highlighted, the practical outcomes of this research are to help social enterprises better formulate and apply effective knowledge transfer strategies that enable them to better integrate the extant knowledge in the community for more effective decision and policymaking. Ultimately, this can lead to improvements in the sustainability and social impact of Thai social enterprise.