Scaling Social Entrepreneurial Impact

By Paul N. Bloom and Aaron K. Chatterji

We introduce a conceptual model that proposes seven drivers—or organizational capabilities—that can stimulate successful scaling by a social entrepreneurial organization. These drivers/capabilities are identified by using the acronym SCALERS, which stands for: Staffing, Communications, Alliance building, Lobbying, Earnings generation, Replication, and Stimulating market forces. The model also proposes that the extent to which an individual SCALERS (i.e., driver or capability) will influence scaling success will depend on certain situational contingencies. There may be distinctive aspects of the organization’s internal and external environment (e.g., intense Labor Needs or weak Public Support) that will enhance or suppress a SCALERS’s influence.  Our model can help social entrepreneurs understand the determinants of scaling impact and growing their organizations. This helps fill a gap in our collective understanding of social entrepreneurship. While there have numerous examples of successful social entrepreneurs, there has been a lack of conceptual clarity about the question of why some organizations are more successful than others. The SCALERS model can help social entrepreneurs identify the strengths and weaknesses in their own organizations and use these insights to further scale their social impact.

California Management Review 51(3): 114-133, 2009