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In the past two decades, we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in the number of social enterprises (SEs) – organizations that hybridize social and commercial goals (Battilana & Lee, 2014). One major sphere of activity of social enterprises is to tackle labor market inefficiencies (Mair, 2018). In particular, work-integration social enterprises (WISEs) create inclusive labour markets by employing those who are not competitive in the mainstream labor market. Employment in the context of WISEs mirrors or reflects the logic of organizational hybridity at the work and individual level. Employment is an engine that enables a social enterprise to create commercial value, it is also a key social intervention to create social value as a rehabilitation tool to increase the well-being of oppressed individuals. However, there has been almost no research that investigates how beneficiaries perceive job opportunities at WISEs and how they make trade-offs among different job attributes (Ali, Schur & Blanck, 2011; Schur, Kruse & Blanck, 2005). In other words, prior research on WISEs tells us little about beneficiary preferences and factors that influence their employment decisions (Roy et al., 2014), while these could provide important insights into designing effective interventions and enhancing the commercial success of social enterprises. In this study, we asked: What job attributes of WISEs are most valued by disabled people in making employment decisions? How do they make trade-offs among different attributes?
Literature / Hypothesis (What literature are you contributing to/What literature are you drawing on? Depending on your approach, do you have any hunches or propositions, what do you think you will find? Why?)
We drew on the literature on WISEs and disability employment to identify important job attributes in the SE context. Based on the literature review, we hypothesized that social integration opportunities, workplace support, salary level, and perceived roles of employees at workplace are influential factors to disabled people’s decisions of working at WISEs.
Methods (Briefly identify your epistemic community [e.g., positivism, postpositivist, critical, interpretivism, postmodern, etc.], your approach and procedures.)
Given that a better job design resides in uncovering beneficiary preferences and needs for stable employment (Vidal, 2005), we investigated disabled employees’ employment choices and preferences on different job attributes in WISEs. We chose Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore as ‘strategic research sites’ as WISE is a major form of SEs in these regions as a response to the long-standing employment inequality (Defourny & Kim, 2011). Using discrete choice experiment (DCE), we examined three main dimensions of employment attributes which are economic, social, and organizational.
Results (What has your theoretical or empirical research found?)
Overall, we found that employees with disabilities strongly preferred more career development opportunities, higher salary levels, a role as contributors and a tolerant and worker-centered leadership style in the workplace. Second, we identified that disabled employees put a greater emphasis on the economic-related job attributes (i.e., salary level) than the social attributes (i.e., social networks) when making employment decisions.