Les paradoxes de la professionnalisation de la gouvernance des entreprises d’économie sociale

Authors: Michaud, Myriam
Advisor: Audebrand, Luc K.
Abstract: The turn of the 21st century has been the scene of financial scandals that have prompted both civil society and academia to renew and deepen their reflection on the quality of governance in organizations. The financial crisis of 2008 and the ensuing crisis of trust have urged organizations and business schools to a serious soul-searching. While ethical concerns have dominated the scene in many respects, criticism towards the effectiveness of boards of directors and their ability to make decisions in the organization's, its owner's and stakeholder's best interests, have also grown. In this respect, social economy enterprises - which aim to achieve a social mission while maintaining their financial autonomy - are no exception. For several years, various systemic pressures towards "professionalization" have engaged social economy enterprises to the point of impacting their entire organizational structure, including governance. However, few studies are devoted to understanding, analyzing, and explaining the processes at work and the consequences of the professionalization of the governance of social economy enterprises. With this in mind, the objective of this thesis is to analyze the phenomenon of professionalization of the governance of social economy enterprises, describe the tensions that arise from it, and explore the response strategies adopted by the organizations to address these tensions. To this end, this thesis's first article reveals the tensions created when applying governance theories and practices designed for investor-owned corporations to collective enterprises with a social vocation, such as co-operatives. Based on an exploration of the literature, we highlight seven governance paradoxes faced specifically by co-operatives. We show that the neoclassical paradigm does not provide satisfactory answers to theorize or cope with such paradoxes. The second article explores a tension between expertise and representation, which are inherent and opposing poles of the organizations relying on democratic and inclusive governance. Based on a multiple case study, we perform a multi-level analysis to explore the dimensions of this tension. The attention paid to the response strategies to these tensions allows highlighting the complex dynamics of paradoxes, showing that the strategies used to manage a tension at one level create new tensions at another level. Finally, the third article explores the tensions arising from the voluntary nature of the governance tasks in social economy enterprises, of which participation in the board of directors is the most demanding. This article uncovers a tension between professionalism and volunteerism, two poles operating on contradictory rationales, but which must be reconciled by social economy enterprises. Overall, this thesis shows that the governance of social economy enterprises can be professionalized, but that this process must be carried out with caution and with respect for the particularities that make these organizations strong.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2022
Open Access Date: 13 June 2022
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/73589
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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