In this paper, we develop a model for explaining how and why universities and social entrepreneurs may overcome challenges that traditionally divide academics and practitioners, thereby developing a partnership to create new knowledge and increased social value. In so doing, we build on Nonaka's (1994) theory of knowledge creation to explain how and why knowledge creation transcends the academic-practitioner partnership to include many other stakeholders. Specifically, we focus on the process of knowledge conversion and the notion of ba to identify the factors leading partnerships between universities and social organization to emerge and expand over time to include other actors and create new knowledge (Nonaka, Toyama and Konno, 2000; Nonaka and Toyama, 2003). Drawing from archival qualitative data over three years since the inception of the academic-practitioner collaboration, we examine an international-award winning example of a partnership between a major mid-western university in the US and an Ashoka-recognized social entrepreneurial organization operating in Central and South America. This study aims to identify the factors that lead to ba creation and ba expansion. Our findings suggest that two sets of factors lead to ba creation and expansion among academic-practitioner partnerships in social entrepreneurship. First, resource dependence and shared vision and values act as antecedents for ba creation. Second, stewardship explanations and identity fusion act as antecedents for ba expansion. Moreover, evidence suggests different actors involved in the partnership play different roles over time, making a unique context to contribute to theory to the area of social entrepreneurship and the more established literature on knowledge creation.
Paper included in the Best Papers Proceedings of the 2012 Academy of Management annual meeting.