this research was based on a study of social enterprises in brazil, to find out if and how these organizations plan and manage the succession process for their senior positions. the study investigated the subset of the associations dedicated to collectively producing goods and services, because they are formally set up and aimed at speeding up the dynamism of local development. the empirical research consisted of two stages. the first was a survey covering a sample of 378 organizations, to find out which of those had already undergone or were undergoing a succession process. the second interviewed the main manager of 32 organizations, to obtain a description of their succession experience. in this stage, the research aimed to analyze how the individual, organization and environment dimensions interact to configure the succession process, identifying which factors of each of these dimensions can facilitate or limit this process. the following guiding elements were taken as the analytical basis: individual dimension - leadership roles, skill and styles; organization dimension - structure, planning, advisory boards, communication (transparency), control and evaluation; and environment dimension - influence of the stakeholders (community, suppliers, clients, and business partners) on the succession process. the results indicated that succession in the researched associations is in the construction stage: it adapts to the requirements of current circumstances but is evidently in need of improvement in order for more effective planning and shared management of the process to be achieved.