This research thesis examines mission effectiveness within three cases of Christian charities in England. It does so within the context of social entrepreneurship, and is occasioned by an attempt to facilitate social service capacity building in order to meet increasing social needs during a period of decreasing government funding. The research evaluates mission effectiveness through the lens of two managerial theories – Resource Based Theory (RBT) and Dynamic Capabilities Theory (DCT). Accordingly, three key objectives underpin this research: to evaluate RBT and DCT for social entrepreneurship in charities, to evaluate the relevant case study evidence and, consequent to an analysis and evaluation of that evidence, to develop/present an appropriately customised theory of mission effectiveness primarily for application within Christian social action charities.
RBT and DCT theoretical and empirical literatures provide several insights into the optimisation of organisational resources and capabilities. An analysis of this literature enables two dimensions to emerge - performance and scalability. These dimensions are explored through six themes: business services, governance, resource investment, collaboration, social enterprise and growth. However, little engagement of these two theories (both developed for and within the For-Profit sector) in the charities (Not-for-Profit) sector is observed. This gap in the literature both provokes and justifies the research. Given that a key objective of the research is to develop a sectorally customised theory, methodologically it adopts an inductive approach to building theory from relevant theoretical-empirical data, empirical literature, their analyses and emergent evidence-based arguments. Appropriate meaningfully-linked RBT and DCT case-specific data are ethically collected using standard methods including questionnaires, interviews, observation, and evaluation of some internal case documentation and public records. Thereupon, the data are evidentially analysed and customised by reference to the relevant mission statement and categorised across the six themes. They are then analysed using traditional case study analytical techniques including pattern matching, explanation building and synthesis in order to enable key findings to emerge. Finally, the emergent research findings are evaluated-interpreted in terms of mission effectiveness, so as to assert causal and/or associated links between relevant theoretical constructs and the findings.
The empirical findings suggest that all six identified themes varyingly affect performance and scalability. Further, they indicate that mission effectiveness is enhanced when resource based and dynamic capabilities are exercised within strategic management disciplines, especially where entrepreneurial means are deployed. This would suggest that Christian social action charities have potential to play a more positive and impactful role in providing social services in England, by systematically improving mission effectiveness via strategic use of RBT and DCT, combined suitably with entrepreneurial means.
Overall, drawing on the empirically identified deficiencies and/or inadequacies of RBT and DCT when applied to the effective accomplishments of social enterprise missions, the findings suggest a hybrid theory of both of them, tentatively named ‘Dynamic Resource Theory’ (DRT). This argues that social action practitioners are more effective when optimising key resources and capabilities using SE means in order to achieve missional impact results. Such a tentative theory will likely influence policies to incentivise improvements in governance, inter-firm collaboration and capacity building. Such policies would be of real practical benefit to practitioners. This theory makes an original contribution to knowledge in terms of social entrepreneurial mission effectiveness - probably most applicable within faith-based charities.