Siemens Stiftung with its INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH NETWORK ON SOCIAL ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT (IRENE|SEE) was presenting partner at the Research Conference of the Global Social Business Summit in Mexico City, 25-26th November 2014.

Siemens Stiftung was the Presenting Partner of the Research Conference of the Global Social Business Summit in Mexico City, on November 25 – 26, 2014. As a part of this exciting event, the Siemens Stiftung hosted two pre-organized panels as a part of its International Research Project on Social Economic Empowerment: IRENE I SEE.

Panel: “Empowerment through Social Business”


The empowerment of people living in underprivileged conditions belongs to the key objectives of current international development initiatives. Yet, being a multidimensional concept and a complex endeavor, successful approaches on how to empower people – not only economically, but also, for instance, politically and psychologically – still require deeper analysis. Social businesses, with their explicit claim to leverage capitalistic forces for the benefit of societies, particularly for the poor, provide several opportunities for empowerment. As organizations that accommodate between the business and the third sector, they can for instance channel funds to promote the creation of micro- or small and medium enterprises, which has been regularly described as a key trigger for development, or for the integration of marginalized communities into the supply chains of multinational companies.

Have a look at the background of the panelists:

Prof. Johanna Mair, PhD

Professor of Management, Organization and Leadership, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin

Johanna Mair is Professor of Management, Organization and Leadership at the Hertie School of Governance. She is also the Hewlett Foundation Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and the Academic Editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. From 2001 to 2011 she served on the Strategic Management faculty at IESE Business School. She has held a visiting position at the Harvard Business School and teaches regularly at the Harvard Kennedy School and INSEAD. Before earning her PhD in Management from INSEAD (France), she was directly involved in executive decision-making in international banking. In 2008 she was recognized as a "Faculty Pioneer" for Social Entrepreneurship Education by the Aspen Institute. Her research focuses on how novel organizational and institutional arrangements generate economic and social development and the role of innovation in this process. She is the co-editor of three books and has published in leading academic journal. Today, alongside her academic responsibilities, she serves on the Global Agenda Council on Social Innovation of the World Economic Forum and carries out advisory and board work for multinational companies, the United Nations, governments, foundations and social venture funds.



Janelle Kerlin, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Public Management and Policy, Nonprofit Studies Program, Georgia State University

Janelle A. Kerlin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Management and Policy at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Dr. Kerlin conducts research on nonprofit and social enterprise development and operation from domestic and international perspectives. Her present areas of interest include nonprofit commercial revenue trends, comparative social enterprise, and international nonprofit organizations. She has published scholarly articles in the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Voluntas, Nonprofit Management and Leadership, and the American Review of Public Administration. She has also authored several book chapters on social enterprise and international nonprofits. She is author of the book, Social Service Reform in the Postcommunist State: Decentralization in Poland, and editor of the book, Social Enterprise: A Global Comparison. She holds an M.S. in social work from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in political science from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

Mario Cesar Dávila Aguirre, PhD

EGADE Business School, Tecnológico de Monterrey

Mario Dávila is currently Associate researcher at SUSTENTUS, Center of Sustainable Development in EGADE Business School. He was a Visiting Scholar at Baruch College, City University of New York from August 2012 to July 2013. He holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and a Master in Business Administration from EGADE Business School. He has research interest in Social Entrepreneurship and Consumer Behavior of the Low-Income Sector.
He is an active member of the International Research Network for Social Economic Empowerment (IRENE SEE), as a part of this project he received Fellowships by Siemens Stiftung to conclude his doctoral dissertation “Development through Empowerment: Integration of the Low Income Sector in the Value Chain”. He also currently teaches graduate courses in International Business, Marketing and Research Methodology at Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León.

Alfred Mbekezeli Mthimkhulu, PhD Candidate

University of Stellenbosch Business School

Alfred Mthimkhulu is a doctoral candidate at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. His PhD project is on small businesses. How can some of the 6 million or so small businesses in South Africa be supported sustainably such that they avail economic opportunities, particularly employment, eluding a significant part of the population? Alfred’s research investigates the main obstacles to growth encountered by small businesses in South Africa. The research also seeks to determine whether small businesses reporting high growth rates have distinct characteristics that could be nurtured in the generality of other small businesses. His research pays attention to the role of finance in small business development in that it explores the profile of firms that encounter challenges when seeking external finance. The research compares how government agencies and not-for-profit organizations work to address the growth obstacles. The goal of the research is to determine whether an institutional framework informed by the social business model is feasible for supporting small businesses in South Africa.


Panel: “Social Businesses as Hybrid Organizations”

Social Businesses are organizations that pursue a social objective in a financially sustainable way. In order to achieve this “blended value proposition”, they lean on structures and practices that are traditionally attributed to the commercial and/or to the third sector. With this, they can be characterized as “hybrid organizations”, a concept that has gained increased attention in management research over the last few years and focuses on the combination of elements that usually stand in conflict to each other or create tensions. In order to achieve their hybrid objectives, social businesses need to develop innovative strategies to cope with the tensions that are inherent to their nature. However, this hybridity is not only a reaction to conflicting dynamics in their environment, it has increasingly been conceived as a promising approach to seize opportunities between established fields. Particularly in developing economies, where resources are scarce and institutional environments are in rapid change, a better understanding of “hybrid strategies” may permit the establishment of robust but flexible social business organizations capable of responding to the complexity of their environments in a financially sustainable way.

Have a look at the background of the panelists:

Wendy K. Smith, PhD

Associate Professor of Management, University of Delaware

Wendy Smith earned her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior at Harvard Business School, and is currently an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Alfred Lerner School of Business at the University of Delaware.

Her research explores the nature and management of strategic paradoxes – how leaders and senior teams address contradictory demands to enable long term sustainability. She has studied how organizations and their leaders simultaneously explore new possibilities while exploit existing competencies, and how social enterprises simultaneously attend to social missions and financial goals. Her research has been published in journals such as Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Harvard Business Review, Organization Science, Management Science and Academy of Management Learning and Education. She summarizes this research in her Tedx Talk, “The Power of Paradox”. 

Wendy teaches leadership, sustainability, and ethics to executives, MBAs and undergraduate. She was nominated for the MBA Teacher Award at the Lerner Business School each year from 2007-2014 and nominated for the University of Delaware Excellence in Teaching Award in 2008, 2009 and 2012.

Wendy has also taught executive and senior leadership teams how to manage interpersonal dynamics, emotional intelligence, high performing teams, organizational change and innovation, managing in times of crisis, and managing strategic paradoxes. She facilitated senior leadership teams at the Harvard Business School Executive Education program. She has also worked with senior teams at organizations such as American Automobile Association (AAA), Wilmington Trust, DHL, and IBM.

Wendy lives in Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

Silvia Dorado-Banacloche, PhD

Associate Professor, The University of Rhode Island

Silvia Dorado is associate professor of management at the University of Rhode Island, United States. She is also a board member of DePaul Industries; a social enterprise devoted to generate employment for individuals with disabilities. In her research, Dr. Dorado has explored topics around the creation of social value within markets as well as the origin, management, and challenges of social enterprises. She has published on these topics in some of the top journals in management including Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Business Venturing, Nonforprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, and Organization Studies. Dr. Dorado received her M.A. from MIT and her Ph.D. from McGill University.

Aline Margaux Wachner

Doctoral Candidate at the Chair for Strategic Organization and Financing, Zeppelin University, Germany

Aline Margaux Wachner is a doctoral candidate at Zeppelin University. She mainly conducts research on hybrid value creating approaches at the base of the pyramid, that is, organizations that explicitly pursue both social and financial objectives. She is particularly interested in the tensions and opportunity spaces that such hybrid organizations face in their endeavor to bridge objectives that have so far been in antagonistic positions.

For her PhD and as a member of the International Research Network on Social Economic Empowerment (IRENE|SEE), Aline investigated different hybrid business models to serve low-income customers with affordable health care. Her study took place in Colombia, Mexico, Kenya and South Africa.

Aline furthermore conducts research on new types of investment vehicles that support hybrid value creating approaches in emerging economies. She teaches in Zeppelin University’s master and executive programs in the field of social enterprise, social innovation and base of the pyramid.

Prior to her PhD, Aline has worked for the Grameen Creative Lab in Wiesbaden for two years and as a consultant in the field of corporate social responsibility.

Tim Weiss

Doctoral Candidate at the Chair for Strategic Organization and Financing, Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen

Tim Weiss investigates the peculiar issues that international entrepreneurs, businesses and investment funds face when they translate their established ways of doing business into a new sector or environment. With his PhD research Tim Weiss generates knowledge on cultural, social and economic dimensions that influence the success of Kenya’s ICT sector. He directs his efforts to engender a more thorough understanding on the conceptualization of entrepreneurship in Kenya, the adaptation of international investment practices to fit the Kenyan market and the influence of global management concepts on Kenyan tech enterprises.

With his research in the realm of social businesses he surveyed an international social business in the humanitarian aid sector for a period of 2 years. The in-depth case study illuminates how social businesses make sense of their environment, how they strategize and how they flexibly shift their attention to the most promising constituents in their field.