Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
The nonprofit sector is increasingly engaged in social enterprise, which involves a
combination and balancing of social mission and business goals which can cause mission
drift or mission tension. A work integrated social enterprise (WISE) is a specific type of
social enterprise that focuses on integrating hard-to-employ individuals, such as ex
offenders, back into the workforce, usually through producing goods or offering services.
Little is known about how WISE organizations manage mission drift, particularly given
the unique characteristics of this type of organization. Using institutional values theory
and resource dependence theory as the foundation, the purpose of this case study was to
explore how a WISE in Indiana experience and manage mission drift and mission
tension. Data were collected from semistructured interviews with 4 board members and
4 staff persons, and from organizational documents. All data were inductively coded and
subjected to a constant, comparative analysis between empirical and predictive themes.
The study revealed the organization has not experienced mission drift or mission tension
because, (a) there was a strong mission and a commitment by the board and staff to the
mission, (b) there was a constant balancing act between mission and income, (c) business
goals aligned with mission, and (d) operating systems were in place for mission
sustainability. The positive social change implications stemming from this study include
providing beneficial information about best practices and strategies to other organizations
seeking to develop WISE programs that provide opportunities and training for difficult to
Jeter, Teresa M., "Exploring Mission Drift and Tension in a Nonprofit Work Integration Social Enterprise" (2017). Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies. 3452.