Work Book: Social Innovation and Enterprise
This chapter has provided an overview of the concepts of social entrepreneurship and innovation. It has highlighted the fact that social entrepreneurs use the same skills and behaviours of traditional entrepreneurs, but for a social rather than an economic purpose. The social entrepreneur can be found in a wide range of environments that can include non-profit and voluntary organisations through to for-profit organisations. Social entrepreneurship seeks to build a social value proposition that draws together people and capital to exploit opportunities for social capital building. Social entrepreneurship and innovation are new and emerging concepts that remain poorly defined. However, since the 1990s there has been a growing recognition of the importance of the social economy and the social enterprise. The ‘third way’ was a reaction to the ‘economic rationalism’ that became prominent in the 1980s. An important form of social enterprise is the co-operative. This type of business model has been in operation for centuries, and the principles of the Rochdale Society founded in 1844 remain the basis for the global co-operative enterprise movement that encompasses some of the largest business organisations in the world. Co-operatives offer economic and social benefits to their members and can be found in a wide range of industries. They play an important role in regional and community development. However, co-operatives suffer from some generic problems associated with their collective ownership rights, and recent trends have seen the formation of a new generation co-operative business model designed to alleviate some of these problems. The theory of community-based enterprise (CBE) suggests that, where a community is suffering economic or social stress but has a tradition of collective problem-solving and sufficient social capital willing to become involved and provide the necessary critical mass, a CBE can form. It will be based on available community skills, have a range of goals, and succeed if there is sufficient community participation.