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Common Pool Resource Institutions: The rise of internet platforms in the social solidarity economy

Ridley-Duff, Rory and Bull, Michael (2020) Common Pool Resource Institutions: The rise of internet platforms in the social solidarity economy. Business Strategy and the Environment. ISSN 0964-4733 (In Press)

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The research problem: Theories of organising are dominated by a neoliberal agenda. This authority has been disrupted by social and sustainable entrepreneurship research that highlights alternatives to this hegemony. The motivation for this paper is to argue that the emergence of internet platforms are contributing to new ways of working in the social solidarity economy (SSE). We focus our exploration on organisational practices and characteristics, evaluating platforms as contributions to commoning. Method: Our approach offers a way out of the public-private dichotomy. We build theory by positioning the SSE as a series of approaches that hybridise redistribution, reciprocity and market: three distinct strategies of social organisations for achieving their primary purposes. Utilising Elinor Oström’s theory of common pool resource institutions (CPRIs) and her design principles, we appraise three internet platforms (Kiva, Loomio and Kickstarter). We triangulate organisational, academic and media narratives to assess the embeddedness of their commoning practices and potential as social innovations for a post-capitalist economy. Contribution to knowledge: Social enterprises (SEs) can develop internet platforms that use CBPP to build and support the SSE. This is the first paper to deploy Oström’s work to study how SEs use CBPP, thereby developing the theoretical connections between these two fields. Our findings are part of a discourse that challenges neoliberalism and identifies how the SSE contributes to sustainable development. Method: In this paper we offer a way out of a state vs market dichotomy. We theory build by firstly outlining the positioning of the social solidarity economy (SSE). Secondly, distinguishing between redistribution, reciprocity and market to outline three types of hybrid organisations that organise to achieve their primary social purpose, giving due recognition to the breadth of hybridity of these platforms. Thirdly, utilising Elinor Oström’s common pool resource (CPR) design principles as our analysing framework we explore through secondary textual data case study research exemplars to highlight the embeddedness of commoning practices in CPR institutions. Operationalising theory into practice provides our research a way to highlight the rise of CPRs as postcapitalist social innovations. Contribution to knowledge: Taken together, these CPR institutions represent a paradigm shift in rethinking complex economic systems towards sustainable development and away from marginalising vulnerable communities. Our analysis suggests that the SSE is a desirable discourse that should no longer be presented as marginal, given the increasing influence it has on communities globally.

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