Activist Social Entrepreneurship: A Case Study of the Green Campus Co-operative
The globalization of the garment industry has encouraged transnational companies to further externalize their cost of production on workers and the environment around the world. Producing countries are engaging in what many scholars refer to as a “race to the bottom” regarding global wages and labor standards as these countries compete to attract foreign investment. There have been many attempts to push back against the egregious effects of this process through anti- sweatshop campaigns, laws, codes of conduct, union activism, and most recently, social enterprise. While these actors have traction in some ways we have yet to see significant changes in the behaviour of transnational corporations. This action- research case study introduces the concept of the activist social enterprise that not only engages in commercial activity but also advances a social and/or environmental mission through institutional entrepreneurship practices, in this specific case fair trade. Using institutional entrepreneurship theory, social capital theory and cognitive frames theory this case study attempts to create a normative framework to understand how social enterprises can begin to pave the way for systemic change in the garment industry by: 1. Fighting to capture and influence institutional norms and regulations of business behaviour. 2. Training managers to embrace the navigation of trade-offs between economic, social and environmental progress. 3. Leverage social capital to develop a radical mainstreaming distribution strategy when competing with traditional corporations.