Models of Social Enterprise?
: Microfinance Organisations as Promoters of Decent Work in Central Asia

  • Robin Gravesteijn

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


In simultaneously pursuing commercial and social goals, specialist microfinance organisations (MFOs) are leading examples of social enterprises working in development. Yet evidence of the feasibility of such ‘double bottom line’ management is limited. The thesis takes a comparative case study approach to investigating the dynamics of a social enterprise model of microfinance, with particular emphasis on its role in promoting employment related goals. Case study material consists primarily of the experience of two Central Asian MFOs that participated in an action research project ‘Microfinance for Decent Work’ implemented by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Data was obtained through participant observation, staff interviews, client level surveys, and it also includes reflective practice arising from my participation in the ILO project as a consultant to both MFOs between 2008 and 2012. The findings are mixed. One of the MFOs was more strongly internally motivated to achieve social goals, and was more successful in implementing social performance management initiatives. The other was motivated more by the goal to demonstrate social performance to external stakeholders, and was less responsive to the evidence generated. The thesis also illustrates both path dependence in the evolution of social performance management, and the limited capacity of external agencies such as the ILO to influence the institutionalisation of development management within MFOs.
Date of Award24 Mar 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJames Copestake (Supervisor)


  • microfinance
  • organisational learning
  • organisational culture
  • institutional change
  • social performance management
  • development management
  • performance management
  • Performance measurement
  • decent work
  • ILO
  • social enterprise
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Tajikistan
  • Central Asia

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