Edited by Gordon E. Shockley, Peter M. Frank and Roger R. Stough
Chapter 9: A Unified Theory of Social Enterprise
9. A uniﬁed theory of social enterprise Dennis R. Young INTRODUCTION The term ‘social enterprise’ is interpreted in a variety of ways by scholars, policymakers, leaders in the business, nonproﬁt and public sectors, and by interested parties in diﬀerent parts of the world (Nyssens and Kerlin, 2006). In Europe, for example, social enterprise tends to connote the engagement of various non-governmental forms of enterprise, including nonproﬁt organizations and cooperatives, in public service activity to address the employment issues and other needs of marginalized groups (Kerlin, 2006). In the US, by contrast, social enterprise has come to describe the undertaking of commercial ventures and engagement with business corporations by nonproﬁt organizations across a broad spectrum of public servicerelated activity (Young and Salamon, 2002). In addition, some scholars think about social enterprise along a public/private continuum of organizational forms and arrangements, where the emphasis is on achieving social innovation (Dees and Anderson, 2006). And, there is a growing group of practitioners and policymakers who see social enterprise as a new institutional form in itself – a kind of hybrid economic enterprise which combines proﬁt-making with the achievement of social goals. Indeed, several countries in Europe, including Belgium, Italy and the United Kingdom, have enacted legislation to create new forms of social purpose organizations (Kerlin, 2006). The diverse conceptions of social enterprise do center, however, around a common notion that social enterprise involves the engagement of private sector forms of enterprise and market-based activity in the achievement of...
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