Leveraging bricolage to mainstream the marginalized: An inquiry into a social enterprise in India


  • R. Parthiban Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Kolkata, India
  • S. Bandyopadhyay Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, India
  • B. Bhatt Australian National University, Australia


Bricolage has emerged as an important mechanism for social enterprises (SEs) to work around resource scarcity, especially in developing nations. Given resource constraints and the importance of cultural context in developing countries, in this paper we inquire how SEs can negotiate through the entrenched traditions to sustain their enterprise. We study the case of MargLink, a SE that dealt with the problems faced by retired elderly in the city of Kolkata, India, who lacked productive ageing options and underprivileged children in rural areas who lacked quality education options, by connecting the two communities using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Our findings revealed that the bricolage activities by MargLink to mainstream the two marginalized sections occurred through four key mechanisms: contesting social rigidities; identifying complementarities; mobilizing available resources; and building reciprocal alliances. Drawing on this, we discuss our contributions to the bricolage and social entrepreneurship literatures and implications for research and practice.
Keywords: Social constraints, poverty, education, productive ageing, sustainable development goals, grand challenges, India