Service innovation in the non-profit sector
Non-profit organisations are valued because they provide services that address unmet needs. Nonprofits who engage in social entrepreneurship augment their contributions through new services, programmes, enterprises and revenue generated. It is not surprising, therefore, for policy makers to encourage social entrepreneurship, service innovations and social enterprises. However, not all nonprofits seek to innovate by creating revenue-generating social enterprises. They may continue to devote themselves to specific fields and existing practices through other forms of service innovations instead. The intent of nonprofits in starting new services is investigated through a two-pronged quantitative and qualitative research approach.
In the quantitative section, a survey is conducted on non-profit organisations in Singapore to measure their intentions in initiating social enterprises and the influence of organisational attributes on these intentions. Entrepreneurship research suggests that under certain conditions, organisations engage in entrepreneurship through new ventures, projects, and innovations. Hence, it is of interest when incumbent nonprofits engage in social entrepreneurship and to find out the key variables that influence their decisions or intentions to create social enterprises.
In the qualitative research, interviews are conducted with selected nonprofits on their intentions towards service innovations. The term “service innovations” is generally understood by the respondents as new or significally improved services, which for some, include social enterprises as well.
This research found that social cause, organisation efficacy and innovativeness are key attributes in the intent towards either social entrepreneurship or service innovations. The interviews revealed that the need of the organisation to stay relevant and serve their beneficiaries better takes precedence over other factors such as availability of funding and having the relevant capabilities within the organisation. This has policy implications for policy makers seeking to foster innovativeness within the nonprofit sector.